Author Archives: welshveganfood

About welshveganfood

Multisport coach at LTR coaching, love the rain, live your dream.

A new challenge 6 weeks to go

This is the first personal blog post I’ve written since Kona! Probably because I’ve been busy building my business up and I’ve been a bit less focussed on training this year. When I planned my season I didn’t want to repeat the same events that I took part in last year, as I knew I was at peak fitness last year, and thought I may get a bit demoralised by comparing past events. So I have done a few events that were similar, and some completely different stuff! I decided back in the winter to enter an Xterra event. I did one years ago, and enjoyed it, so I planned this one, mostly because it was at the end of the school term time, which meant I would be able to have a summer which didn’t involve me training too much! This is the event that I entered.

When I entered the event I didn’t really look at the profile much. I just thought it looked hard, but would get me out of my comfort zone a bit! So this year I have been able to do a bit more mountain biking and off road running to prepare me for the race, which I love!

I suggested the race to my friend Rachel, who has bravely chosen to join me in a trip to Italy, and I’m also looking forward to a mini break without children!

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Races I have done, are; The Wildflower duathlon, a couple of time trials and a couple of off road running races. This is me finishing the Beast Bach, a local off road event that I have done before. I was suffering at the end, as I was pushing hard to stay in 1st place! My time was pretty close to my PB on the course, so I was pretty happy with that.

A post shared by Frank Whittle (@sirbenfro) on

We’ve been up to Snowdonia on a few family breaks where I ran, and enjoyed taking the boys on some climbing and scrambling adventures! As it gets closer to the race I’ve been looking at doing a couple more races, and one of these off road runs is definitely on the cards, along with the Cardiff Tri, which I entered a while back.

Its harder to find mountain bike events, as I’m trying to keep things low key and stay fairly local for events, so I’ve only done one off road cycle event in Builth Wells. It was a mud fest, very slippery. As Rachel keeps reminding me, its going to be hard! The bike route takes in over 4000ft of climbing over 30km, (a bit like riding up Snowdon) and the run is pretty undulating! Full course details are here

The countdown is on, and I’m looking forward to posting a race report when I get back.

 

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Coming to terms with Kona

Well, I haven’t posted my race report, and I’ve been hesitant about doing so, because truthfully. I was disappointed with how the race went, and not only that, but my injury then had an impact on how I imagined my recovery and holiday in Hawaii would be. Having a goal and high expectations can sometimes lead to disappointment, and that is ok. I’m ok with being disappointed now. It helped reading Jesse Thomas’ report, which rang true for me in a lot of ways.

When I qualified Patrick and I had chatted and he said, so you could probably be in the top 20. I said I’d be delighted with that, then my coach said I could go top 10 if everything went well. I was really excited by this and as the season went on I was having breakthrough performances, so I knew, if I could do the same marathon pace and similar swim pace that I had in Wales then I could go sub 11 hours. I knew my bike would be quicker, as the course is not as hilly. I wasn’t thinking about position, as you never know who will be racing, but I thought that it was within my capability to go sub 11. I had worked really hard this year and it was showing.

On race day some things didn’t go to plan. I went in to the race having only just recovered from a cold. My swim was a bit slower than I’d have liked, then I crashed early on the bike. I don’t know if this affected my whole day after that point. I was really struggling mentally to find the positive in the race. I’ve practised riding in the wind, but my power was way down, even lower than in Wales last year, and I know I should have been able to push at least 10 watts more average. The run I found my rhythm for the first half then slowly gave up. I was trying to think of people who I knew were tracking me, but I just couldn’t stop slowing down. I didn’t care anymore and just wanted to get to the finish line.

When I finished I wasn’t in the best of states, so couldn’t really celebrate, as I had felt like doing last year. The next day I wandered around Kona, with the family, with PMT and my leg throbbing in pain, as I slowly realised I would need to see a doctor. Not the relaxing swimming in the sea with the family and snorkelling that I had imagined, but an afternoon in Kona Hospital, then waiting in Longs drugs for a prescription. Whilst we were walking to the hospital Milo stood on my toe, (He does this A LOT!)(one of my toes had a loose toenail from the run) and that started bleeding too. So no feet in the water!

Anyway, after all that I am now coming to terms with what has happened, I always try to focus on the positives, and what you can do, or what you have, rather than what you can’t do, or don’t have. But it has been challenging, especially while sitting in a canoe or beach, while your family snorkels and has fun in the water. But we have seen some amazing sights, and I am really grateful to have been able to race over here and visit the Island, we also missed the storms in the UK 😉 It didn’t go as I imagined it would, but thats how it goes sometimes. Its time to move on and start the next chapter!

Race report is here (Its a long one!)

 

Kona travel log

Travelling to the other side of the world to race is hard at the best of times, but travelling with 2 children and a cold is not so much fun, 2 days before we left for Hawaii I started getting cold symptoms, so had to abandon my training plan. Patrick and I spent Wednesday packing, just before picking up Milo from school we had a call saying that our flight had been changed to a BA flight, and that we were leaving from T5 instead of T2/3, which meant trekking across the airport with our bags and bike. It actually wasn’t too much hassle just a bit of an annoying deviation.

 

Once Devon had had his scissors confiscated and my mysterious powders had been checked out, we were through security, and refilling our water bottles. I had a timetable for drinking, moving around and eating throughout the journey, which I stuck to and I think it would have made a big difference had I not had a cold. The boys were fantastic on the flight, courtesy of screens. It was easy to clock the athletes on the flight wandering around eating fruit and vegetables and refilling water! We arrived in the evening in Hawaii and attempted to fit the bike box in the SUV we had hired, it didn’t fit but they upgraded us to a minivan. Patrick managed to negotiate the HUGE vehicle to our apartment in Kona and it was straight to bed.

I woke up in the morning with a really tight throat from the air con, and messaged Mark to let him know. I wasn’t meant to be training anyway for the first couple of days but it was so difficult seeing triathletes everywhere swimming, riding and running when I was still coughing and jet-lagged. I had all these images in my head of me swimming out to the coffee boat, cycling on the queen K and running on Ali-i drive to practise and acclimatise but this wasn’t going to happen, and getting my head around this was not easy! Although we managed to get our shopping done once we’d recovered from the shock of the prices.

 

So the next few days were spent snorkelling, and avoiding getting sunstroke. Tuesday was a busy day, the first day of registration, the keiki dip n dash, and the parade of nations.

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Tired boys.

I was still coughing on Wednesday so it was off for some snorkelling and a bit of culture.

 

On Thursday we planned to ride up to Hawi so I could do a ride from there, as that is where it is usually windy. Mark said it was Ok to ride easy, for up to an hour so I rode down the hill for 20 mins and then back up to Hawi. It was good to finally get out on the bike, and feel what the wind was doing. Afterwards we walked down to a beach, where Patrick and Milo managed to get stung by Portuguese man of war!! Which didn’t really help my stress levels!

The next day I managed a swim and a short run. I bumped into a women who I had chatted with at the parade of nations, and we exchanged numbers and wished each other luck. I racked up in-between swimming and running. So all that was left to do was try and get some sleep before the big day. Race report coming up!

September (the road to Kona)

Another month, another 100 mile time trial, this one in polar opposite conditions to the one in June. The weather was cold, wet and windy, as opposed to one of the hottest days of the year! Not ideal for Kona preparation, but one hundred miles all the same. My result was good. I held 10 watts more power and knocked around 9 minutes off my PB, for the course. I also felt lot better mentally and was able to break the ride down, and focus on each part a bit better. On the last stretch I managed to pick my pace up a bit and was only 1 second off the winning female for the last section. Final results are here, as you can see the result sheet was full of DNS/DNF!!

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After the TT I had a horrible run to do, which I managed OK but spoke to Mark on the Tuesday, he gave me a bit more recovery before the next push.

The weekend after, I got to watch Ironman Wales, as I had THE WHOLE WEEKEND OFF! Unfortunately the weather was appalling, rain, and wind most of the day. I cycled up to Templeton and was soaked through within 10 mins, so I stayed for one lap of the bike before going home to dry out so that we could catch the train from Kilgetty to Tenby to watch some running. It seemed quite quiet compared to previous years, (probably because of the weather) and we managed to get some spectating in before dinner and the train home. I must admit I was happy to be spectating and not participating this year!

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I only had a couple more big weekends to go until the big day, the first of which seemed to kick start my period a week early. I have been tracking this like a hawk, as it has IMG_0887physiological effects on your body. What this meant, if my period started early, was that I would be around 1-2 days from my next period on race day, which is the worst time, especially in the heat, as blood plasma volume is lower which means you are at extra risk of dehydration, my core temperature will also be naturally higher, which makes things harder in the heat; however after a couple of days it decided to go away and reappear for Dale Half Marathon, its still not ideal as I will be in the second half of my cycle for Kona, and have the same problems as above, but nothing I can do except prepare for it to be tough, stay hydrated, and on top of my nutrition. If you want to read more about hormones and how they affect your training then there is a link here.

The day before Dale I had a longish ride so lots of fatigue in my legs. It was a tough weekend, but should be worth it! I was happy with my time at Dale, only a few minutes off my PB for a half so everything is still looking good.

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The following week I had to go back to some heat prep, which sounds OK (40mins in a hot bath) but really isn’t very pleasant, as its 40 minutes in a 40 degree bath after a training session. The first time I did it, I managed 25 minutes before feeling dizzy and sick and had to get out, the next time was 35, then I finally managed 40mins.

We had a final appointment in Cardiff for Patrick to have his bladder scanned and a consultation with Professor Kyneston. Everything was positive, and he recommended having an MRI to check on prostate cancer in a years time, then probably another 5 years after, so we can go away knowing that everything is OK, for now. We were both happy and relieved to get home, after that! The next stage is getting to Kona, which will be a mission in itself, but I’m feeling positive and excited about being there.

How do you define success?

Success conjures up many images, and is not defined in the same way for everyone. When racing, success, in its most basic terms is measured by your result. But is that really success? Some of the times that I feel the most accomplished is not necessarily when I have done well in a race. If the competition was not there, and it was an easy win, then it is not as satisfying as when I have overcome mental blocks, or pulled myself back from negative thoughts or a dark place.

We all have different circumstances and lives, measuring yourself against other people is at best futile, and at worst damaging to your mental health. So how do you measure your own success? or find ways of celebrating the small things? First you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. It may be, a PB, it may be, just finishing a race in brutal conditions (I’m thinking Ironman Wales this year!), it may be, managing to balance your life, so you have time to do the things that you really want to, or overcoming a fear.

All of these things are valid ways of celebrating what you have achieved, and if things don’t go well in a race there are always things to take away from it, there will have been some success somewhere, you just may need to look for it. Find a way of being proud of yourself, and you will be successful.

If you did race Ironman Wales at the weekend, then here are some stats about the race and the amount of DNF and time differences to other years that you may find interesting. I’m sure when looking at them you will find something to be proud of!

http://www.coachcox.co.uk/2017/09/11/ironman-wales-2017-age-group-results-kona-qualification/

August (The road to Kona)

I spent most of the first day of August in Patricks hospital room in Cardiff while he recovered from surgery, with a brief excursion to the pool and Waitrose, which handily is next door to the hospital. (So glad we don’t have one near us, it would be so dangerous. I seem to have spent a lot of time this month in Waitrose one way or another!) Patricks parents came to stay for a few nights after the op, so that we could have some help with the kids. They took them out for the day on the Friday that we came home, which was really helpful as I could get things organised at home and fit in my training.

The week after, we were given another appointment for Patrick, in Cardiff, that day was the only day of training that I missed, which is testament to the support that I am getting. The day after the appointment Patrick seemed pretty low, he was uncomfortable and I really wanted to make him feel better, but there was really nothing I could do. I was feeling guilty about racing at the weekend but Patrick assured me that he wanted me to race, so he had lined up a beach BBQ with a friend, and my mum was on hand to drive, I felt like I was leaving him in safe hands.

Race report is here. I was really happy with my overall race, and its looking promising for my endurance fitness. When I got home I felt a bit rough for a couple of days but had a lot of recovery in my diary so managed to bounce back fairly fast. I packed my bike in the bike bag, that Jan has kindly lent me, to check if it would fit in the car (it did), and caught up on a few jobs that needed doing.

Now that Kona is so close, I’m beginning to think about afterwards, Patrick and I had to drive to Cardiff again for another appointment, so we had a chance to chat about next year and what our plans are. I know we both need a break from me competing at a high level. But I also need something to get excited about!

The remainder of August seemed to fly by. My training started to build again towards the end of the month, and I started dreaming about Kona! There are still some final things I need to sort out before going, and I’m planning on tackling these when the boys go back to school.

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I had a great recovery day at the end of August with the family, unfortunately Milo was ill so it didn’t quite go as planned but we managed to catch the worlds most expensive mackerel on a fishing trip in Tenby! The good news is that Patrick seems to be on the mend. He still has an appointment at the end of September to check that things have gone Ok, so we’re hoping that will go well, and another appointment to discuss any cancer treatment at the beginning of September.

July (The road to Kona)

Before, and after a storm, comes calm. I have been preparing myself for the next storm at the end of the month, when Patrick is booked in for his operation. We have been here before though, and have support to get through, so we are feeling pretty positive about this next chapter.

The beginning of July saw us driving up to the Lake district for Patricks dads 70’th birthday. On the way we were passing the spot where I had left my water bottles from the 100mile TT, I asked Patrick if he thought they’d still be there. He thought they would be but I had my doubts, happily I was wrong! I was really excited about reclaiming my bottles. (its the little things)

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In the Lakes I just took my running kit, and was up at 7am to run both mornings. Its always great to run somewhere new, and do a bit of route finding, however on the second day I found myself quite high up, with just shorts and a running vest, thinking that I probably should have had some extra layers. Its easy to forget how exposed you can be in the mountains.

When we got back I continued with quite a heavy training block, still putting out some good numbers. Towards the middle of the month, I travelled up to Loughborough to visit my coach, and get a bit of swim input. We went out on the bike on the day I arrived, and Mark recorded and went through my swim stroke, correcting a few faults in the afternoon/evening, and then continued in to the next day. It was good to have some time away and focus on myself for a few days. I saw some definite improvements in my swim stroke after spending a couple of days swimming and revising drills.

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When I got back to Pembrokeshire, I needed to start a bit of heat prep to find out how I coped. This involved making the bathroom hot and steamy, then setting up the turbo in there, to do some bike sessions. The first session was on a beautiful sunny day, which made me wonder what the hell I was doing! The 2nd session was horrible, 5 lots of 8 minute efforts at FTP building each set, which needless to say, DID NOT HAPPEN!! The 3rd session felt a little easier, probably because it was, and I ended up faffing around with my garmin for half an hour, as it decided to crash, just as I got on the turbo to do the session, which meant that the bathroom lost a bit of heat! This was all done in-between ferrying children to various birthday parties.

The last Saturday in July was The Wales Triathlon (race report here), a good test of where I was physically before Patricks operation on the Monday.