Busy, busy, busy!

Not very many updates recently, it’s been a busy couple of months.

I went to France for three weeks in August, had great fun and tried out scuba diving; I’m looking for local diving clubs in Aberystwyth to join as I’d like to qualify.


Got back from France and started a new job with the department to help fund the final year of my PhD. I’m working for the ASTUTE project as a software engineer, so far it’s all going well. I did the Bala Standard Distance Triathlon mid-way through September; that was going really well bar the chain on my bike coming off and excruciating knee pain half way through the run. In the end my time was a little disappointing, I was hoping for 2 hours 20 minutes and ended up with 2 hours 45 minutes – but I did have to jog/walk the last 5km of the run!

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So, I had a couple of weeks off after that and my knee was feeling better, and then I went running again at the start of this week and my knee hurts again. I’ve been to the doctors, they said just to rest and it’ll be fine, but if it’s still in pain in a month come back and they’ll arrange physiotherapy. However, this is a nuisance as I’ve got the club Sprint Distance Triathlon this Sunday. My knee isn’t so bad now (I’ve been taking plenty of Ibuprofen, resting it and have one of those knee compression support things), so I’m going to see how it goes for Sunday. Hopefully I can do the triathlon still.

After Sunday (which is my last triathlon of the season) my plan is to have a good months rest – maybe do some swimming and the odd bike ride, but generally just rest. Then, the Iron Man Wales 2014 training starts. A bunch of people from the club are doing it, and I’ve been saying I want to do an Iron Man for a few months now. I’ve decided to do it for Macmillan Cancer support, so my Just Giving page is here. Any donations would be very much appreciated! My general plan is to spend November – end January base training (fairly similar load to now) and then I have downloaded a 20 week training plan. I was thinking about doing the Bala Half in June too, as a bit of a stepping stone and as part of my training ready for the Iron Man in September. It’ll be a good opportunity to test out different nutritional plans.

Mumbles’ Triathlon

This weekend I spent in Mumbles near Swansea with some friends from Aberystwyth, and Ash who is doing a PhD in Glaciology at Swansea University. I signed up to do the Mumbles’ triathlon around November, and have been looking forward to it ever since. Rosie, another friend, also signed up to do the short sprint triathlon, her first ever. The race was exceptionally well organised, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. In the end, I had perhaps my best swim time yet at 11 minutes 45 seconds for the 750 m (significantly beating my time from the Bala charity swims a few weeks ago), the bike time was 1 hour 6 minutes and 5 seconds for the 32 Km and my run took 27 minutes 45 seconds. Overall I came 95th out of 250 doing the long course with a time of 1 hour 48 minutes and 40 seconds. Although this seems slower than my previous sprint triathlons, it’s important to note that the bike was an extra 10 Km and the swim was an extra 350 m.


Rosie did great too, coming 57th out of 75 with a time of 1 hour 41 minutes and 43 seconds. She says she beat me as the start and finish line were on the same course – not competitive at all!

Overall, another great triathlon, and another great, but exhausting, weekend!

Best Pub in Llandudno

Last week I spent the week in Llandudno on holiday. Apart from close encounters with jelly fish whilst swimming in the sea, some tough hills to climb on the bike, the excitement from the funicular, the most interesting trip to the Great Orme Copper Mines (well worth a visit), or even seeing Bill Bailey, perhaps the most important discovery was that of the best pub in Llandudno; it wasn’t as Trip Advisor implied, no, it was the The Cottage Loaf. Excellent food, beer, atmopshere and in a great location.

Ruthin Sprint Triathlon

Yesterday was another race, the Ruthin Sprint Triathlon. It is the first year that this race has taken place. After my surprise at 1 hour 21 minutes and 5 seconds at Chirk I was really hoping to beat that time at Ruthin. The course was slightly longer, 27km on the bike according to the website rather than 25km, but otherwise another 400m pool swim and another “undulating” 5km run.

Unlike Chirk, it was all electronic timing, so I didn’t have to hang around for hours after to get my time. In the end, I managed 1 hour 21 minutes and 3 seconds, beating my time by 2 seconds over the slightly longer distance. My split times were, for the swim 7 minutes 13 seconds (36th place), the bike was 46 minutes 56 seconds (35th place) and on the run I was 24 minutes 42 seconds (113th place). Transition times were recorded separately, so on T1 I had a time of 1 minute 11 seconds and on T2 I had a time of 1 minute exactly. I was most pleased with my run, at 24 minutes 42 seconds it was a personal best for me for 5km. My overall position was 46th, and 8th in my age group.

My next triathlon is the Mumbles triathlon on the 22nd June, but until then I have a couple of charity swims on the 8th June in Bala lake to keep me going.

Chirk Sprint Triathlon

On Sunday I completed my first triathlon of the season, the Chirk Sprint Triathlon. I had been on the waiting list for a place for some time, and on Sunday 21st April I got an invitation on Entry Central to take part. However, having paid and accepted the place, the last couple of days leading up to the race I was a bit concerned that there was a problem as I couldn’t find my name on the start list, I didn’t have a race number, and I didn’t have a swim start time! I contacted Wrecsam Tri and they told me there was a problem and they had missed me off the list, but not to worry as they could see I had paid and to turn up on the day and they’d slot me in.

So, race day approached. Registration opened at 7.30am, but I had been told that my swim time would be around 12 noon based on my estimated swim time. I turned up to register at 10am on Sunday, and after about half an hour of finding supposedly free race numbers (which turned out not to be) they found me a space. Race number 297, start time 12:21.

Swim waves were being sent off at 3 minute intervals, and at 12:21 I was off. Alas, I was also off behind someone from the previous wave. Just as the whistle blew they were pushing off the wall from their previous length. It then took me two laps of the pool to get past the person in front of me, in the end I used my flip turns to push ahead; very few people seemed to be doing flip turns so this gave me quite an edge in the pool. After the slow start, the swim was going really well. But, then, on my last length someone coming the other way decided to overtake and bumped into me. In the end, my swim time was 7 minutes 23 seconds and I was 112th out of around 400 people out of the water. My first transition went really well. My watch said around 1 minute 30 seconds, and I certainly didn’t muck anything up.

I had a plan for the bike. I knew the course having lived in Glyn Ceiriog for many years, and I knew that on the way out the bike was ever so slightly up hill. I decided to take it easy heading out, and got overtaken by two people. But, once I was at the turn around point I knew I’d saved enough to push hard on the return leg and I ended up overtaking four people! My combined bike and T1 time was 45 minutes 54 seconds, and I was 96th position on the bike. However, after my first transition went so well, I was bound to mess up somewhere, and it was in transition. I’d got back from the bike, and I couldn’t remember where my racking space was! I must have stood there looking like a lemon for a good 10 – 15 seconds and finally a marshall shouted, “what’s you’re number?, you’re over here!” Ooops!

Having found my rack, I was quickly off on the run. Running has never been my strong point so I found the hilly course to be tough work. I managed to run the whole way even with the hills, but I certainly wasn’t setting any personal bests with a combined T2 and run time of 27 minutes 48 seconds putting my run position 244th! I think I really need to concentrate on my running (and perhaps navigation!) a bit more in training.

At the end of the race my watch said I’d done it in 1 hour 21 minutes and 10 seconds; I didn’t quite believe it at first. I’d said before the race that if I managed 1 hour 30 minutes I’d be happy, if I was over 1 hour 40 I would have been sad. With a time of 1 hour 21 I was over the moon! When the results came out I found I’d actually done it in 1 hour 21 minutes and 5 seconds, I must have spent 5 seconds pressing stop. My final position was 139th out of around 400 competitors.

Despite a bit of a rocky start with finding race numbers, a interesting swim, getting lost in transition and a hilly run, I had a thoroughly enjoyable race and I’m looking forward to my next triathlon in Ruthin on the 12th May. But, before then, I have a 10K charity run in Bristol on the 5th May. Anyone who is feeling generous, why not sponsor some money for a good cause?

First sea swim and first triathlon race of the season.

Yesterday I had my first sea swim of 2013. Sea temperature was around 7 degrees Celsius, and it was most cold! I only lasted around half an hour, and I don’t think my swim hat really provides that much protection if I’m honest, but I was able to used the opportunity to practice some sighting techniques. More sea swims planned over the coming weeks, and the water should start to warm up a little more.

Some good news yesterday too. I’ve moved off the waiting list for the Chirk Sprint Triathlon on Sunday 28th April, and I’m now fully registered and looking forward to my first (triathlon) race of the season!

Apêl Elain Half Marathon

The University Triathlon club that I am in has a regular spin session on a Thursday and our instructor, Bridget James, has been running thirteen half marathons in thirteen days during April to raise money for her charity Apêl Elain. Bridget’s daughter, Elain, has a number of heart conditions including Pulmonary Atresia, VSD and MAPCAs as well as 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome. At the moment, her prognosis is not good, she is terminally ill.

Given that yesterday was Bridget’s last half marathon, I thought I’d go and support her. So, I put on my running shoes and ran my very first half marathon. It took me 2 hours and 22 minutes (details can be found on Garmin Connect or Strava), but it was all in a good cause. I am aching quite a bit today, but I can’t even begin to imagine what Bridget must be feeling after thirteen days!

So, if you’re feeling generous, donate some money today to support a good cause!

Started Swimming Again

About five weeks ago I managed to quiet severely pull my shoulder muscles in my right arm while swimming. I suspect it was mainly caused from a flaw in my swimming technique; I’d been entering the water thumb first without realising it, despite giving advice to many people to not do exactly this in the past! Go figure. I suppose I’ve always been a bit of a do as I say, not as I do kind of guy. Anyway, I spent about two weeks pretending there was nothing wrong, or at least, trying to pretend anyway. By the end of the two weeks, however, it had got to the point where I literally (yes, literally not figuratively) couldn’t swim a length without being in pain. It was at that point I decided enough was enough. I would have to take my own advice, not to mention the advice from the millions (figuratively, of course) of other people telling me to just rest it!

So, having decided three weeks ago I was going to rest my arm and do no swimming for two whole weeks, I started upping my other training efforts. More time running, more time biking to make up for those missed swimming sessions. What happened? I came off my bike a week on Sunday (17th Feb) doing bike to run transition training. Interestingly, just the day before I’d been reading an article on injuries that Triathletes suffer, and in particular I read about how Triathletes will replace lost training sessions in one sport for another, and then generally end up sustaining a secondary injury due to overuse or simply because statistically, the more you do something, the more time you’re out and about and at risk. Seems I fell victim to this.

After almost two weeks of recovering from this incident, a visit to the hospital (a week after the incident) because I thought my wounds might have been infected, I finally got back in the pool today, and it was amazing! I didn’t stay in long, only half an hour (my wound is still sore, and I didn’t want to expose it too long to the chlorine and anything else that might be in the pool just yet), but it was good to be doing something again. I have a small Aquathlon (only 400 m swim, 5 k run) to take part in this coming Sunday, organised by the club I’m in. So, the plan is to go for another swim tomorrow, and then maybe see about a small run on Friday; I haven’t been running or cycling for almost two weeks now either.

Anyway, after all the time without swimming properly, I did a time for 750 m of around sixteen minutes. I forgot to take my Garmin with me, so I don’t have accurate timings, so that time is based on my wrist watch. I’m fairly happy with this, before I stopped I was getting times around fourteen and a half minutes for 750 m. I found flip turns a little tough, all that bending of the knees and curling up in a ball to flip was aggravating my wounds a little, but, on the whole, I’m really chuffed!