First Race of 2017 This Weekend

My first race of 2017 will be the half-Ironman in Staffordshire next Sunday 18th June.  That wasn't the original plan.

My aim had been to race Loch LoMan four weeks earlier and iron out any race-related problems.

Lethargy and a persistent cough, possibly virus, put a month-long hole in my training and pushed me out of the Loch Lomond race.

I'm using a new bike, new trisuit and new nutrition products, all of which work well in training but none of which have been tested under race conditions.

Consequently, I'm not expecting a fantastic result at Staffordshire.  Indeed, I've discussed with my coach Joe Beer and decided to treat this as a tough day's training.  I'll back-off the run rather than going full gas.

That's because my first 'A' race of 2017 happens just two weeks later - unfortunate timing - but I hope to do better at Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh, the first of the brand's visits to Scotland.

I'm slightly concerned about the Staffordshire course.  There have only been two races held there (you can watch the TV coverage for 2015 and 2016) and this year's will be the last.  The 2015 race sold out in 14 minutes, whereas this year's still hasn't sold out.  What's more, it's the last time the event will be held largely in the grounds of Shrugborough because the estate has been sold and, I believe, the new owners have a different focus for the estate.

The TV shows produced by Dreamteam, and with my friend Patrick Winterton as commentator, were useful preparation.  Still I'm driving down mid-week so I'll have time to recce the course and feel relaxed before the inevitable mayhem.  Sadly I'll miss being part of the Adventure Show's coverage of The Celtman this year as it happens on the same weekend.

That's quite a lot of effort for a training race, so I hope it pays off at Edinburgh!

Where To Carry All That Stuff On A Triathlon Bike?

That's a serious question - where do you carry it all?

Especially for middle and long course events in the UK and other parts of northern Europe.

The weather can be less than perfect and try jamming a rain jacket into a tiny Tri-suit pocket!

If you have any suggestions / thoughts / ideas please let me know in the comments.

This is my Cervelo P2 rigged for training rides of 4-5 hours in duration around the Scottish Highlands.  Actually, it has never been used for racing.  Staffordhire IM70.3 will (probably) be its first race.

Food is five bars, mostly carried in the front Specialized Remora bento box which fits directly onto mounts in the Cervelo frame.  I carry a PowerBar wafer as a treat in the storage between the bars,
Specialized bento box
with four gels tucked into the zippered X-Lab Stealth Pocket 100 in front of the seat post.

Zipper bento for gels
It works fine, but the X-lab one doesn't sit as flat as I'd like because the rear brake cable comes out of the frame underneath.  It'll sit better during a race because I won't need the rear light.

Fits better without light
Spares and tools are in the Vittoria bottle cage tool bag behind the saddle.  I carry two inner tubes, three co2 cartridges, two tyre levers and a multi-tool so hopefully I'm never stranded miles from anywhere.  Double punctures do happen.  This is heavy so I'd carry less racing.  Alongside the tool-carrier is a spare 75ml drinks bottle.
Tools left, spare bottle right
There's another 75ml of liquid in the Profile Design FC35 'tank' between the bars, with the 'treat' PowerBar and space for wrappers before I find a bin.  I've not used this in racing, but I've ridden with it for a while now and I like having the drinks tube.  The Garmin mount wasn't secure and slipped around, so I glued some inner tube onto the bar to prevent the mount slipping around.

Profile Design front hydration
There used to be 50ml in the Elite Crono aero bottle on the frame.  I'd frequently leave this empty but in place because it weighed mere grams and in my ignorance, I assumed it part-filled a 'hole' in the frame shape so it more aero.

However, I have decided to (perhaps) re-deploy it for UK races where there's a chance of rain.  By cutting a hole in the top of a spare bottle, I can store an inner tube, inflator head, gas cartridge, tyre levers and a Sportful HotPocket rain jacket.  Yeah, it looks a mess in those pictures, but I could easily put gaffa tape over this and only expose the hole if I needed access.

Aero bottle as storage
I have no idea whether this will work.  I showed a photo to my coach and he suspects it will be aero-messy once the tape fails to round-off the top.  Since he knows way, way more about aerodynamics than I do, he's probably correct.

Will tape make this aero or no?
Still, I rather like having this as optional storage, especially if it means getting rid of that Vittoria tool carrier behind my seat.

In fact, that whole behind-the-seat mount could be empty.

Ironman bike aid stations operate 'bottle-exchange', they give you a fresh bottle filled with either water or energy drink.

So I could start with just the front tank and keep topping it up at aid stations along the way.  If I fail to ditch the new bottle before the end of the aid station (the only place you can jettison a used bottle) then I'll just stick it in the rear carrier until the next one.

This is starting to sound like a plan.  I'll test it this week in training, and more importantly during Staffordshire IM70.3, which is really just a 'B' race for me this year.

If you have tried and junked any of these ideas or you can contribute a better way to carry all the stuff, then seriously, I would love to hear from you.  Add your thoughts in the comments below.

Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh Bike Course Recce

All three courses, swim bike and run, on the Edinburgh Ironman 70.3 have changed since the original maps were posted at the launch of this event.  We're told the final routes are in place but no-one can be certain.

I ran the run route (the old run route!) back in January.  The new iteration is not so different as to give me many concerns, but I will walk it before the event.

However, the swim and the bike are on routes mostly new to me, so a recce was always going to be valuable.  I hope you'll find the info useful too.

Virus Affects Endurance Athletes

"I have had this conversation with eight of the athletes I coach",  Joe Beer told me.  "It's rife. I've never known anything quite like it".

My local Doctor pretty much confirmed Joe's anecdotal observations.  "We've seen several types of Glandular Fever going around recently", she said, "you might have one of those."

[Edit: I'm delighted to say that as of 13th May I seem to be all clear.  The blood test was negative, my power has returned and the sore throat faded.  Back to training for IM70.3 Staffs and Edinburgh].

Thank goodness for my training diary.  I've been riding less than two hours at a time because of a persistent cough, sore throat and occasional tiredness bordering on lethargy.

Triathlete in Scotland? Do This.

If you're doing a long course triathlon in 2017, please give serious consideration to doing this swim.  I did it last year and wrote about it on my Ironman blog.  It was a genuine challenge which I honestly did not know I could complete.  But after that, I could take on anything.  

So when I stood on the start lines of my half and full Ironman races last year I was actually looking forward to those swims.  They held no fear because, after all, I had swum the Sound of Mull.  

Entry is by donation - give what you can.

[Edit - this was a SUPERB day, with many swimmers far exceeding limits many would normally set themselves.  Take a look at the photos from this event, then follow Highland Open Water Swim on Facebook to make sure you don't miss future swims.]

Sunart Swim & Kayak

We had a safe and successful weekend of open water swimming based at Resole Campsite on Loch Sunart, raising money for the Children with Cancer charity.  It was the second event this year organised by (the first was Corran) and 35 swimmers took part.  They were ferried by RIB across the loch to swim back to the campsite.

The swims are building to the main challenge, swimming across the busy shipping lane that is the Sound of Mull on 6th May.  That's just 2 weeks away.  I'm responsible for finding the kayakers, so fingers crossed everyone turns up.  Any kayaker reading this who'd like to take part, please get in touch - I can promise you a great day and your help will be invaluable.

There are a few photos in this slideshow but you can find more on Flickr

Created with flickr slideshow.