So it’s 2017!! Winter training has been fun this year. Plenty of stuff on zwift to keep me entertained with the bike. Running has gone well and swimming has been consistent-ish.
Since starting this blog, the support has been amazing!! All the comments, likes and feedback is what keeps me going. I bought a GoPro camera during the winter months and this has really helped bring my journey to life. I take it out with me on my sessions and I’m able to capture the moments far better. I’m hoping this will improve my blogs from here on in!!
Thanks to you guys my season has already been improved. I have teamed up with a company called Crotch Guard UK, and they have offered me an ambassador role with them. This is awesome news because my crotch is important in this whole journey!! I won’t go over board with the details here, but I intend on starting a ‘product review’ section to my site, so will put it in there soon. As my social media channels are growing I am getting more and more interest from companies inviting me to work with them. So this is where I say my thanks!!
Thank-you for spending the time to read my blogs. You won’t believe how much it means to me. It really does give me the motivation to get through the toughest of sessions. Knowing you guys are there and ‘interested’ drives me to make more memories and share the stories with you. I’m hoping this year will be the best year yet!! I’m going to try my hardest to get some good results too, and with my GoPro in tow I should capture some great shots!!
So let’s get stuck right in.
Llanelli Half Marathon
My first event for the year was Llanelli Half Marathon!! It’s a local race to me and depending on the weather it can be a quick course. My run training had gone well and I went into it hoping for a PB. My previous PB was in Cardiff 2016 with a time of 1:29:38. The weather forecast was looking good, ‘it’s on’ I thought. Two of my best friends were also running Owen and Richard. This was Richards first event ever, and he was going for a sub 1:40:00, this time Owen took the role of pace maker and ran with him.
So this run starts from Parc Y Scarlets, ideal and easy to get to. Parking is plentiful as they are used to it for the rugby. A short walk and you’re at the start line. Perfect. They kindly opened the stadium for us to use the facilities and keep warm before we start.
The run takes us down the main road back toward Swansea and then puts us onto the coastal path all the way past north dock and past the millennium coastal path cafe. You then turn around and head back. Usually on that coastal path you are faced with a headwind either out or back, or sometimes both (not quite sure how this happens, but it does happen quite often).
On this particular day there was little to no wind and a little drizzle to keep us cool. Conditions were good. We all lined up and we were off before we knew it. I had decided to start fairly close to the front as to get away and set into a nice pace.
I’m sure alot of you guys watched the London marathon and saw the fantastic news of Josh Griffiths being the first Brit to finish, well he ran the Llanelli half marathon and absolutely smashed it to pieces. He put a class photo up on his instagram. It read “don’t follow the pack, let the pack follow you”. This photo must have been around the 1 mile mark!! Look at the lead he has already!!
So I set off with the plan to stick to 6:20 min/mile. My plan was going well. I settled into a nice pace. I was feeling ok. At the turn around point I was on track. Just needed to turn and maintain. My legs did start to get a little heavy toward the end, but then I had never run that far and fast before!! Understandable. The last mile and half felt a little tough, a few little uphill pulls, nothing big but my legs would have appreciated a downhill instead. Up the home straight and across the line!! I clocked 1:24:32. Smashed my previous PB by over 5 mins!! Boom!! I went to get my medal and goody bag, keep warm and wait for the boys to come over the line!! I could see rich coming up the home straight. He looked in pain, and he looked like he had nothing left in the tank. Fair play to him, he went all out. I could put a photo up to show you the state he was in, but that wouldn’t be fair. Let’s just say that when we got back to the car he realised he had forgot to pick up his medal and goody bag, as he was too busy trying not to spew everywhere!! He was in a knot. Although. He got his goal!! His first ever half marathon, and came in under 1:40:00!! Well done Rich!!
Vale of Glamorgan Duathlon
Next up was the VoG Duathlon, based at Llandow race circuit, great opportunity to test the legs with running and biking after all the winter training. Another fairly local race to me, and fairly short, so fast and furious was the plan of attack. I didn’t feel so good going into this one. I had picked up a running injury, with knee pain stopping me in my tracks for 3 weeks prior to this. Luckily enough I felt okay on the day.
So the race was a 5.5km run followed by a 26km bike and then another 2.5km run. It was a great feeling going into a race knowing and having the feeling of ‘I got this’ in terms of the distance. Knowing I had put longer training sessions in the previous months, it gave me the confidence to push it a little for this one. Really test my speed and winter training!
So we turned up on the morning, nice and easy to get in and plenty of parking. Just how I like it. Quick set up in transistion. Double check of the equipment. Ready to go.
We lined up on the race track used for go karting, ready for the start gun.
“Right then guys, on the horn!!”
And off we go. I had started off near the front of the pack purposely to see what the pace up front was going to be like. To be fair those front guys are quick!! I clocked my first mile as 5:36, and there was a fair gap opening up with about 6/7 guys in front of me!! There was no way I maintaining that, so came back down to a pace more suited to me, ended up clocking a second mile of 6:12 and then a third of 6:24. I came into the first transistion in 13th place. Katie was loud enough to inform me of this. I had a goal of trying my damn hardest to get a top 10 finish. My goal was just in front of me, a few guys to catch!! How was my cycling going to be. Last season I always felt my bike was holding me back, but now I had spent time focusing on it through the winter and put some good sessions in.
So out of T1 and onto the bike course. I quickly settled into the ride, bike felt nice and comfy, legs felt good, heart was flying!! I was in this race to push my limits and I fully intended to see that through. I ploughed on, and for the first time ever I was actually feeling strong on the bike. I quickly caught up with two people and passed them on the first hill, I had one athlete not long after pass me, so I really knuckled down. I was squeezing everything I had on the bike, I passed another. Made the far point where we started to head back, I had overtaken 3 and one passed me. I kept it conisistent, there was one hell of a head wind heading back which was slightly unpleasant, but we all had it, so it’s fair game. I kept as aero as I could, I passed another and remember saying to myself, I think that’s 10th!! My goal was a top 10 position. What was now going through my head was, all these guys were faster than me on the first run, so chances are they are going to catch up with me on the second run!! I needed to keep at it a build as much as I could. Not too far from the bike finish I passed another athlete it shift into 9th!!
Into T2, Katie shouts at me “you’re 9th”, great stuff, it was good to know where I was at. A quick transistion and straight out onto the run. The final run was around the go kart track, so I could see other 8 athletes running around. It was 3 laps of the track. As I started to run, I felt both of my calves tighten right up, I though they were going to go into a full on cramp. Luckily I just run a little funny and it eased up. It was really unpleasant, I hadn’t felt that since my first ever brick, it shows the lack of brick sessions that I had done recently. So after I had done about a lap and half a fair few more athletes had joined the final run, it became quite difficult to know exactly who was who and what lap they were on. I came into my final lap and two athletes passed me. I thought it was 10th and 11th. I didn’t feel I had much left and just tried to stick with them, I got about 200m out and I literally felt this rush come over me. I full on went into sprint mode, charged past the one, kept digging and was gaining on the other, just as I was going to head into the final finish the athlete I was just about to pass had another lap to go!! So he veered off left!! But to be fair it was great to know I had some left in the tank for a strong sprint finish!! My final position was 9th!! Came in with what I was hoping for. Absolutely chuffed to biscuits. There were some strong athletes out front. I definitely recommend that race. Here are some shots from the day!!
Awesome stuff. And straight onto the next event!!
Next up was the Carten!! I had been wanting to do this race for a few years, ever since seeing the massive convoy of cyclist’s making their way from Cardiff centre all the way to Tenby!! We were lucky enough to all secure our place. There was to be 5 of us heading down together!! All of the other were century virgins, by that I mean none of them had ridden over 100 miles in a single ride!! To be fair in the lead up everyone put a good effort in and did a fair bit of training. Come the day I think we were all ready for it!!
This is me and Richard at the start line with Laura in the pink helmet behind us!!
So off we went, heading down to Tenby amoungst the largest group of cyclist’s I have ever seen!! There were around 2500 of us, all in the same tops. It was great!! I was particularly excited this day. I’m not really used to riding with people, it’s usually either by myself or one other, or on the very rare occasion 3 of us. To have all these people around was class!! Laura kept laughing at me because she said I had the biggest smile ever on my face. She said I didn’t stop talking to people the whole way down!!
So we were making good progress out of Cardiff, got up onto the A48 heading toward Bridgend. We were so lucky with the weather. First of all it was dry with fine conditions and secondly we had an easterly wind, meaning a tail wind virtually the whole way!! It was a quick section down to Bridgend, we made a quick stop to say hello to some friends waiting there and Laura wanted to offload a layer, she did this in fantastic style by coming to a stop and forgetting to unclip her cleats. She went down in the slowest of fashions. But no harm was done, so all good.
Back on track, and we’re heading for port talbot. We get to baglan and there’s a feed station set up. We all stop and have a quick refill of our drinks and grab a snack. We don’t stop long before setting back off. We come off the Britton Ferry bridge and start heading toward Swansea. We are all feeling good at this point, plenty of energy and still happy in spirits. Not far down the road one of the cyclist’s in front of me unfortunately loses control of his front wheel and crashes into the side barrier. We all stop to make sure he is alright, and it was clear he was in a lot of pain immediately and was going to need help. Luckily a friend from one of the local triathlon clubs stopped and she was cycling with a doctor!! So we had three nurses and a doctor!! Everyone worked really well as a team. Different people taking control of different things. The ambulance was sorted, his bike and equipment were taken care of, and he was kept safe until further help arrived. We think the poor guy had broken some ribs, but we all hope he is ok. If anyone reading this knows of the gentleman involved, please send him my best wishes. 👍
So once the ambulance took control of things, we got back on track. Legs felt a little stiff getting back into the swing of things, but all was good. Before we knew it we were heading along the front of swansea and toward Blackpill where we made a turning up the clyne cycle path. We knew we were only a few miles away from our halfway stop at north dock Llanelli.
Katie being the fantastic supporter that she is, put on a full car park buffet for us!! We had a variety of drinks, we had hotdogs in a thermos flask, we had cake, chocolate, malt loaf, fruit, she even catered for the ‘gluten free’. She really is the best support anyone could ask for. It was nice to get a feed and a top up before the hills of west Wales came at us.
So we said our farewells and we would next see them down in Tenby!! We left north dock and headed along the millennium coastal path toward burry port. From there we head to Kidwelly and then into Carmarthen. By now we were edging close to the 60 mile mark. Our legs were starting to feel like they had done a ride that’s for sure. Coming out of Kidwelly we were faced with one of the first proper hills of the day. Fair play to the group, we all made it up there with no problems. Along that stretch there’s a few up and downs but nothing too drastic. We came into Carmarthen and started to head towards some of the more tricky hills. We took things steady, kept our nutrition going, and supported each other through. Things were looking good, we were on track and keeping together. Lots of single track lanes from Carmarthen onwards and lots of strong smelling cow manure. It was so strong my jelly babies literally tasted of crap. The miles were clocking up nicely. Chipping away towards the 108 mile total.
We clock about 85/90 miles and arrive at the longest climb of the day. It must be a good 2.5 mile climb!! It’s not all that steep but it feels it on heavy legs. One of the boys starts to cramp really bad, we had to make a stop and get him topped up with fluids and food. We think he’s back on track but he was going through a real bad patch. Fair play though, he battled through, and 5 bottles of energy drink and all my jelly babies later he came through!! Woohoo!! He smashed through the wall that he got and kept those legs spinning.
We keep clocking and finally make it to the 100 mile mark!! I think I was more excited than all the others and it wasn’t even my first 100 mile. But anyway I was shouting away and celebrating!! 8 miles to go!!
We stick as a group, get to the outskirts of Tenby, and feel blessed in knowing that there are no more scary hills, just an easy ride down into the town. Me being the non-competitive, thoughtful type of person, I let all of them get in front of me to head down through the town toward the finish!! I know Laura was particularly happy about this, as I think she had been secretly practicing her sprint finishes in case I sped off toward the end. But we all rode down the finish together!! It was amazing. Katie was there with the dogs, Laura’s family had made it down there to shout us in!! It was absolutely packed down there!! I’m always blown away by the support that Tenby has for local events. The local community embrace it fantastically. I love the place!! So we all get our finisher t-shirt and head down for some free grub!!
Next time I’m down here in Tenby will be for the long course weekend!! That scares me. There’s just something special about that place!!
That’s a busy start to the year!! And that’s just scratching the surface. I got a whole load of events coming up and exciting news to share with you, but I need to keep something to talk about next time. Haha. Stay safe guys. 👍