It’s been a really busy year and 2011 is probably going to be even busier.
Physically, 2010 has been the most satisfying of my life; breaking and smashing all sorts of targets I have set myself. At the age of 39 I’m faster and fitter than I have ever been (though I’m currently enjoying my off season). I’m still learning and know that my quickest days are not necessarily behind me. I’m not one to gloat but I do need to remind myself of what I have achieved to counterbalance all the negative thoughts that run around my head.
I tried open water swimming for the first time in May and it wasn’t half as uncomfortable as I had anticipated. Before taking to the open water I worked hard through the winter to ensure I could comfortably swim a kilometre of front crawl, something I had never done before. The regular swims with the Lads over at Leigh provided me with a bit of friendly competition together with some short quick lunchtime bursts at Stretford baths. I had my stroke analysed at Tri Central and they told me what I already knew (that my kick was shocking) but their video evidence focussed my attention somewhat and enabled me to swim more efficiently even if I didn’t get much quicker. Open water swimming at Salford Quays was great fun and I’ll do it again when (if) the weather’s good next year. The aquathon swim/run around the Quays was a nice little warm up to the Liverpool Triathlon and I’d repeat that too sometime (blue green algae permitting).
The open swims at Knutford with Andy were pleasant though the 90 minutes travel there and back probably can’t be justified in future. It gave me the confidence to swim in Loch Lomond but my ambitions plan to cross the lake and back will have to be held back for another occassion. It was disappointing that the Great North Swim event that Andy and I had worked towards was cancelled, but I enjoyed the replacement event I found at Capernwray (especially as I ‘won’) and would like to go back there for a South Lakes Triathlon sometime but maybe not in 2011. If the lads fancy doing the Great Swim at Salford next September I’d join them but will hold off swimming until the summer.
Cycling in 2010 was great fun, the training for the Liverpool Triathlon turned some of my early morning commutes into turbo training sessions and as I gradually learnt to trust myself and my new road bike I pushed harder and cut my commuting PB from over 20 minutes down to under 17 minutes rolling time. I also checked another box I’d always wanted to tick by cycling to the seaside for the first time with a group of friends from work. The 60 miles of Trans Pennine Trail out to Southport was easy, enjoyable and interesting and if I was to repeat the ride I’d allow the time to take a direct on road route home.
Running is where I’ve really suprised myself. Of the 3 triathlon disciplines this is my strongest discipline. The whole point of training for a triathlon was to encourage me to run and it’s worked. I had always wanted to run a sub 20 minute 5k and it finally happened this year. With the assitance of some Brooks running shoes, SIS isotonic drinks, Delphic, the Endomondo application on my phone and a global Sage 5k challenge I was fired up to run 18:19 by the end of the summer. I enjoyed a couple of 5k Parkruns and since the event is on my doorstep, and I have shamelessly used the runner’s discount heavily in the Arndale’s Sweatshop through the holiday season, I really should return and push my 19:12 PB lower. The Heaton Park circuit is a bit hilly and I’m wondering if on a flatter Prestwich circuit, with the optimum fueling and a tailored training program, whether a sub 18 minute run is possible in 2011?
Another Sage global challenge pushed me below 40 minutes for 10k, something I had only dreamed to be possible, though I’ve some way to catch Mo Farah. I enjoyed 3 early morning solo half marathons; the first was on holiday along the coast from Benalmadena to Torremolinos, the second around Loch Lomond (a miscalculation of distance to the nearest village) and the best of the three was a tour of the centre of London setting off from my brother in law’s house. It’s great to be able to do this, but without the base fitness and miles in my legs it would be quite painful and a lot less fun.
The highlight of my athletic year has to be the sprint triathlon at Liverpool. My training was well organised, thorough and almost entirely enjoyable. The venue and conditions were beautiful (a little too hot if anything), and the pre-event preparation, including an afternoon of relaxed drinking around the city on the eve of the race, were well judged too. The transitions were safe and steady, swim was comfortable, ride was very quick and the run was creditable considering the conditions. I couldn’t believe I finished 13th, if I’d spent less time in transition it’d have been top 10.
So in 2011 I might not be swimming and probably won’t be doing the full distance triathlon I had initially intended to do, that challenge will be postponed for now. I’ve booked in for a duathlon at Oulton Park in April which will give my running a focus but I need to spend time and effort on other parts of my life whilst I keep running and riding with purpose.