Autumn Update 2015
Having not written for a while, it's time for an autumn round-up.
I rattled off the end of the summer with a few fair bike results - I lowered my 10 mile TT PB time to 21:17, finally cracked 26 minutes round the Abbotsley TT course (with 25:45) and scored a 54:55 25 mile TT in my only open event of the year. I never did get round to riding a 100 mile TT, but did manage a couple of 50 mile lone rides - comfortably coming in under 2 hours each time (1:58:46 and 1:57:47). That's one to revisit next year sometime.
As far as Autumn goes, my first (and main) goal was the English National Duathlon Championship to be held at Oulton Park racing circuit in October. I wanted to try and get close to the Age Group podium.
After several months concentrating on the bike with just a couple of relaxing runs per week thrown in, I needed to try and regain my running legs (without losing all of that biking fitness) - and I had just 7 weeks to do it! It has to be said, training went well - probably the best dedicated period of focussed effort I have ever put in. Within my self-imposed limit of 7-8 hours per week I managed to cram in 54 sessions of quality, well-structured training (not bad going in 49 days with at least one full rest day per week!). Likewise, my recovery routine is by now pretty solid - thanks Profile Protein for the continued support!
Come race day, I was feeling pretty confident that there wasn't much more I could have done in terms of preparation in the time available.
I headed up to Oulton (with another local athlete) on the morning of the event - everything went smoothly and we arrived in plenty of time to check-in, sort out our kit and relax before the off. The race itself was exceedingly well organised and a real pleasure to be part of. The circuit is very picturesque and well maintained, if a little hillier that I might have liked. We had two laps of running, followed by 9 laps of riding and a final lap of running ahead of us. With a circuit length of 2.7 miles it also meant that the two runs would come in a little shorter than the standard 10km / 5km distances.
My first run was strong - I ran fractionally above my standalone 10k PB time for a time of 31.16. Transition (in the pit lane) was quick and efficient. My plan for the bike was to keep it relaxed - to recover and be ready to run well again. It all felt good at the time as I practically rolled round the 24 miles for 59:31. My second run came in bang on target at 6min/mile pace.
All in all my race was solid and I was pleased at the finish. I was over the moon when I visited the timing tent to see that I was in third place on Age Group. However, hope of my first National podium was short-lived. The event overall top three had not yet been included in the age group rankings, and the overall third place finisher was also 35-39, so I was down to fourth and out of the medals. Denied!
On reflection, and somewhat surprisingly, it was my bike leg that had let me down. I definitely should have pushed this much harder - something to correct next time out.
Next on the calendar was the Peterborough Great Eastern Half Marathon, just one week later. I wanted to capitalise on my run fitness and at least worry my previous PB. Everything was going swimmingly to 10 miles - I'd had the discipline to start steadily and then pick up the pace a couple of miles in. I was running smoothly, picking good heels to follow. Then midway through mile 11 it all went wrong. Horribly wrong (albeit not as horribly wrong as it could have done). Without wanting to go into the finer details - I needed to be somewhere else. Rapidly. Fortunately a well-positioned port-a-loo came to my rescue, but my race was done. I cruised home in 1:23:11.
I've had shaky bowels for several years, especially when running... and I took this experience as the cue to try and figure out the cause. I have always had my suspicious that the problems were caused by wheat, but that is not the case. By a process of elimination I have now discovered that the problem is bran (or probably more specifically anything particularly high fibre) - this is certainly borne out by the fact that I'd had a decent portion of sultana bran on the morning of the race! Dietary experiments since the race have proved promising, so perhaps this is something I won't have to repeat.
So that brings my race reports up to date. Next on the agenda is the St Neots half marathon in November. I have continued to work hard at my running - so, I guess we'll just see how it goes. I'm also starting to develop my goals for 2016 and set a training program accordingly - exciting times. With European Duathlon Championships to aim for, I hope I can continue to make progress.
Thanks for reading