I am a Warrior!

June 4, 2017

Blenheim Triathlon

3rd-4th June 2017

This year I headed back to Blenheim, where all my sporting shenanigans started back in 2012.

The premise this time was not just to compete in a Triathlon but to see how many I could complete over the two days of the event.

I had signed up for the Weekend Warrior entry. Introduced a few years ago and now expanded to allow mere mortals to have a place, the concept is simple. Starting in the first wave on Saturday complete as may triathlons as you can one after the other. Yep, as soon as you cross the finish line you head back to the start — via transition if you need to pick up your wetsuit — some people had friends/family swap their run kit for a wetsuit so they could start the next one as quick as possible.


My folks were going to come and support me so had offered to take my bag. I figured I would get them to bring my old wetsuit so I wouldn’t need to put on a wet-wetsuit. Something which is surprisingly hard to do.

I had the usual panic before leaving the house wondering if I had all my gear, and set off later than I wanted. So I cycled to Blenheim a lot quicker than I probably should have.

Having met up with my dad who, as my Weekend Warrior support team, was allowed into transition with my second kit bag it was time to layout all the gear ready for the race.

Things got off to a pretty bad start as as I was getting ready I stood on my glasses bending the frame with one of screws dropping out, closely followed by a lens.

After lining up for the obligatory photo call in my nice new ‘Weekend Warrior’ Tri–suit I headed to the lake in my wetsuit.


I was unsure how to approach the day as I had originally signed up for last year’s event when I was much fitter and, to be honest, I hadn’t done any proper training having only been out on the road bike a couple of times this year.

As we walked down the pontoon to the water I got that brilliant mix of excitement and fear.

race1_startline.pngSwimming up to the start line I couldn’t help but edge near the front and then when the horn went I blitzed it. It was one of my best swims and as I exited the water I was feeling so good, even if the photo doesn’t show it…


You can’t look cool and take out earplugs at the same time!

I ran up the twisty path up from the lake back to transition and managed a wave to my mum & dad on the way.


Then off on the bike which was a bit hairy without my glasses but the course is fantastic and by the third lap of the bike I was flying round the corners, then despite the hills I had a good run too — coming in at 1h26 for the race, only 3mins slower than my PB for a sprint set on a flat course.

Feeling invincible I went back to the lake almost immediately to start my second.

wetsuit-rushThen after a decent break for lunch with my parents I did a third triathlon, this time made a bit easier by having my glasses. It turned out one of my fellow Warriors was an optician as was his wife who was supporting him, so while I was racing she had managed to repair them for me!

There were some friends also competing and it was great to see them afterwards though it was a shame not to have seen them out on the course.

After a very well deserved pint I cycled the 6 miles home at a leisurely 15mph. I then ordered a giant Papa John’s pizza, had a shower and chilled out on the sofa with a bit of telly.


I arrived a lot later than my initial plan as when my alarm went off I could hardly move! But despite a bit of sunburn and some very tired legs I cycled back to Blenheim with the aim to do at least one more. Luckily Sunday has the elite waves first so that bought me a bit of extra time, and I arrived for the start of the second general wave at around 10:30am

DSC01508.JPGThe first swim went really well and the cool lake eased my tired muscles, I probably went off too fast but got round the rest of the course without too much trouble.

I figured I might as well have a crack at another one so headed back to the swim start and got most of the way through the bike section before starting to feel like it was a bad idea.

Thanks to some great support out on the course I finished the last lap of the run and collected my 2nd finisher’s medal of the day.

As I made my way back to transition some one asked if I was doing another. I joked and said yeah if I’ve got time. I realised I could probably make it to the swim start before the final wave of the day set off. Grabbed my wetsuit and trudged down to the lake side, still unsure if I should actually start another one…let alone if would finish it. Enthusiasm (or more likely delirium) got the best of me and I headed out onto the pontoon and set off yet again.

20x30-SUND9356.jpegI don’t know if it was better pacing or the knowledge that this was the last one of the weekend but it went much smoother than the previous one and after nearly two hours I was crossing the finish line yet again!

Two days, six triathlons — 4.5km swum, 119km cycled (not including the 24 miles getting to and from Blenheim) and 32.4 km run! An absolutely fantastic weekend of racing, and yes I probably will do it again next year! Seven anyone?

Thanks for reading and remember to have fun next time you race ;-)


Broken Promises

May 5, 2017

I like to think I am a trustworthy and honest person, someone who keeps their promises. But this year I have broken three promises I made to myself over the last few years.

True, they aren’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things but it does show up my biggest flaw — lack of self control!

Many people having done an ‘extreme’ sporting event like a triathlon or open water swim say “I am thrilled to have finished that but I’ll never do it again”. Others are totally hooked and just can’t get enough, bet you can’t guess which camp I’m in ;)
So my promises were’t “Never again” but more “That’s the furthest I can go”.
There are four main event types I enter: Swim, Bike, Run and or course Triathlon. And I had made a promise about each.

Swimming 10km
I did the Henley Mile in 2014 and though I struggled I also loved it. I remember watching the awesome Olympic open water swimmer Keri-Anne Payne and being amazed that she does 10km open water competition swims. I promised myself that while I was happy to do more open water swims I would never attempt such a long distance. If I was worn out and in pain from the wetsuit chaffing my neck after just 1 mile then there was no way I would put myself though something of that distance. Instead I set a goal of doing the Henley Classic 2.1 km swim in 2015.
Report card: 1/10; promise broken 9th of August 2015.
Not quite zero as I did complete the Henley Classic. Problem is I also entered ALL of the Henley Swim events. This included the Bridge to Bridge marathon swim. I swam 14.1km from Henley to Marlow.

Cycling more than 100 miles
In 2013 I did the Zappi Gran Fondo. A 100 mile bike ride round Oxfordshire. The route was lovely, the hills were killer and my feet hurt more than i can ever describe at about the 85 mile mark. So I promised myself I would never attempt to cycle any more than 100 miles.
Report card: 5/10; promise broken 19th/20th of September 2015.
I think I deserve a bit of credit for this one as I did take breaks and had a bit of a sleep in the middle! I signed up for a 24 hour endurance race called Revolve24. I spent a beautiful sunny weekend cycling round the Brands Hatch race circuit 83 times — racking up over 300km of cycling.

Running more than 10km
Thanks to ParkRun (a free weekly 5km race series) I now really enjoy running — up to a point. My knees are not what they were and after the 10km run in the Olympic distance London Triathlon in 2014 I vowed that 10km was pushing my luck and I should never dream of going further.
Report card: 3/10; promise broken 4th of October 2015.
This one was’t my fault. Honestly. I did the Blenheim 7km run early on in 2015. My friends John and Mairead had given me a lift from our open water swim session to Blenheim. They said that as i had enjoyed the 7k I should look at the half marathon also held at Blenheim as the course was lovely, running through the rolling parkland. Now if I was a bit more intelligent i would have realised that the reason I enjoyed the 7km so much was that it was only 70% of a 10km and therefore was under my maximum. Anyway, they really sold it to me and so I signed up. As it happens I don’t have any regrets about this one. It was indeed a lovely course. I peaked a bit early at 10km going way too fast thinking “only a parkRun to go”. As the palace came into sight I was ready to sprint to the finish then realised the course actually went back down to the lake round it and back up the main hill. Oops. I was shattered but had the best run of my life. It’s inevitable that I’ll sign up for a full Marathon.

I will never do an Ultra Distance Triathlon
This one is safe for the time being. Ultra Distance is commonly referred to as an “Iron Man” though that is the name of a specific race series not the distance. An Ultra Distance or “long course” triathlon consists of:
2.4 mile / 3.9 km swim
112 mile / 180 km bike ride
26.2 mile / 42.2 km run

Three out of four is not to bad.

A bridge too far

August 12, 2015

If you’ve been following along with my adventures you’ll know I’m a sucker for signing up for events without thinking it through. Well this time I’ve really gone and done it. It’s called Bridge to Bridge and is from Henley to Marlow. Yes, you read that right. Total distance is 14.1 Km for most people that would be a train journey. It’s even further than the longest run I’ve done to date. Starting along the same stretch as the Mile I swam a few weeks ago it then carries on for another 7 3/4 miles.

I have to admit I’ve not done anywhere near enough training. I genuinely don’t know if I’ll make the full distance. With previous swims, runs and even the 100 Mile bike ride I knew I could do at least 75% of the distance this time the event distance is many times further than I have ever swum before. Oops.

Read the rest of this entry »

Off to the pub

August 10, 2015

I end up in the pub after most of my races but this one is special — the finish line IS the pub! This last weekend I did the the Henley Swim Club to Pub 1.5km swim for the second year in a row. After the success of the Henley Mile traditional (non wetsuit) swim I figured, as the weather was so nice, I could do this one in just my swimmers too. Read the rest of this entry »

New York City, not as flat as you think!

August 6, 2015

Last year I entered the lottery to get a place in the New York City Triathlon — and won! So this July I joined over 3,000 athletes having a swim in the Hudson river as part of an Olympic distance triathlon. Read the rest of this entry »

Henley Mile 2015

July 13, 2015

Henley Mile 2015, so good I swam it twice.

This past weekend I headed off to take part in the Henley Mile organized by Henley Swim. The name pretty much sums up the event — It’s a 1 Mile swim downstream in Henley. Though technically the event location is in Remenham, a mile and a bit downstream of Henley.

Read the rest of this entry »

Henley Classic 2015

July 8, 2015

The Henley Classic, or
Two adventures for the price of one

Last year I did my first ‘swim only’ event and I have to say I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Take a look at my Henley Mile 2014 race report to find out how I got on.

This year I decided to up the distance and entered the Henley Classic. A 2.1km upstream swim along the Henley regatta course on the Thames. Despite the early start, the fact it was upstream and 1/3 mile further than’d previously swum it seemed like a good idea back in November 2014 when I signed up.

Read the rest of this entry »

Blenheim 2015 Triathlon

June 26, 2015

Race report or Nine ways to screw up a triathlon

  1. leave water bottles in fridge at home
  2. arrive late
  3. lose one bike glove
  4. no towel*
  5. have mild panic attack
  6. skip wetsuit lube
  7. forget where you parked your bike
  8. badly adjust rear derailleur
  9. forget the actual race distance

*technically I did have a towel but it was at the bottom of my rucksack and I didn’t have time to fish it out before the start and I could’t get to it when I finished the swim, the same goes for the other bike glove.

I love the Blenheim Triathlon. I was doing the short “Super Sprint” distance as that is the same race I started with at Blenheim back in 2013.

My new relaxed, “lets just enjoy the race” attitude had been proven out by London’s result ( see ITU London 2015 Race report ) and so I wasn’t that upset when the weather forecast for Saturday morning got worse through the week. I figured it was about time that my streak of good weather races finally ended. I sort of layed out my kit the night before but basically just made sure I had wetsuit, shoes & charged up my sports watch. Read the rest of this entry »

Blenheim Triathlon 2013 — The Race

September 26, 2013

Part two — The Race (see also part one — prep)

Well what can i say? After racking my bike1 it was time to make my way down to the swim assembly point on the edge of the lake. After safety briefing and course description (basically turn at the first buoy towards the boat house) it was time to walk along the very wobbly pontoon and slip into the grey water.

After the initial shock of oh-my-god-this-is-so-cold I swam around a bit and remembered what they had said on the training day about if you’re unsure hang back a bit or stay to the side so that you don’t get crushed at the start, however i found myself dead centre right on the virtual line between the two markers!

Then the klaxon2 went and we were off! I managed to keep going forwards and about 1/2 way was starting to feel my arms ache as i had set off too fast trying to keep up with those around me.

Once out of the water i had a bit of a wobble as I tried to regain my balance and then there was a tortuous uphill run of a few hundred meters to get back to the transition area — and the start of the bike leg.

Found my bike easily and wheeled it to the start line where i wobbled a bit as i tried to get on too quickly and then set off. Stupidly i had my bike gloves but had not put them on in transition so the first problem was a mouth full of glove while trying to get up to speed. I had no idea how good or bad my swim was so i went pretty quick. Seeing as we were the first wave of the day it meant anyone ahead was motivation to overtake. First lap went well and then as confidence grew ( i.e. i knew the course now) i went all out — going as fast as I could for the second lap.

After an almost incident free transition ( forgot to take the cycling gloves off) I set off for the run section and my legs felt soo soo heavy. I fixed on a guy a little way in front of me who seemed to be going at a good pace and just tried to keep up.

When i finally got to the finish line i was so out of breath i forgot to look at the huge foot-high clock showing the finish time which meant i had no idea of my time!

In the end my final times where:
Swim — 00:08:49
Bike — 00:27:24
Run — 00:15:49
Total 00:59:40

I did the Blenheim Palace 2013 Super Sprint in under one hour! I was amazed, both how close it was but also that i got such a respectable time.

Finisher’s medal

Finisher’s medal

  1. As i have yet to find a way to swim in my glasses i had to leave them with my bike, which causes problems as then i can’t really see the swim course!
  2. It may have been a whistle

Blenheim Triathlon 2013 — prep

June 9, 2013

I woke up a little after 4am. “Oh that’s great, this is going to be a bad day” I thought to myself as I tried to go back to sleep.
After ½hour I gave up and went and had a shower.
I put my Lucozade sport and a water bottle in the freezer and then put one of my spare water bottles by the front door — the aim being this would remind me that there was one in the freezer. Drinks prepped I had some cereal and a coffee for breakfast. I went through the numerous checklists* I had made over the last few days and was reasonably happy I hadn’t left anything out. I re-read the welcome pack notes for the umpteenth time (Super Sprint is TWO bike laps and ONE run lap).

I then pumped up the tyres on the bike and went for a quick spin into Summertown to get some cash so I could go for a drink afterwards. Everything felt good and the excitement was starting to build.

Got home and took my drinks bottle out of the freezer, put on my transition bag rucksack and set off for Blenheim palace — a quiet 6-7 mile ride mostly on cycle track.

On arriving at Blenheim I followed the cars to the parking lot thinking that was the easiest way to get to registration. I had to get off my bike as I was worried about the effect of the gravel track on my road bike.

The registration tent was supposed to be open at 7:25 and I was one of the first there (I had cycled a little faster than I probably should have done!). I chatted with a chap who I met at the training day in Richmond who was also doing the Super Sprint as his first Triathlon and it was great to have a joke and dissipate some of the nervous energy.

At around 8 they opened up registration and a I duly queued up to collect my timing chip. Then it was time to head to Transition and rack my bike.

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Part two, the race, coming soon, but in the meantime check out the photo story I put together over on Flickr.

* There are so many articles on the internet about how to approach your first triathlon that every time I read one I start another ‘top tips’ or ‘must have items’ list.