Saturday, 26 July 2014

Hatfield Tri - Take 2

Last Sunday saw me compete in the Hatifled Triathlon for the second time. This triathlon was the same race I competed 2 years ago, the site of my first triathlon.

I wanted to go into the race and set a new PB to see how much I had improved in the last two years. Given I had hardly trained (2 5km runs and 2 swim sessions) since Ironman Austria, it definitely wasn’t the best preparation.

I decided to carry out an experiment in this race and race completely to HR zones.

My aim was to complete the bike at a minimum HR of 160bpm (well into my tempo zone) and then back this up with a minimum HR of 170bpm (again into my tempo zone) and see if I could hold those respective efforts for the duration of the sprint distance race. Yes I knew it would hurt but after holding 180bpm in the Doncaster 5km, I thought it was a worthwhile experiment.

Race day morning arrived and I made my way over to the Waterpark in Hatfield. Registration was seemless. Now time for racking. Since deciding to race sprints, I have stripped my bike down to its bare essentials. Given I punctured earlier in the season, those essentials stop at foam and CO2 cartidge. No bottles. It’s amazing how little stuff I need for a sprint. When compared to how much I took for my first triathlon, it is joyfully minimalist. My transition area held my bike (complete with shoes on), a towel, my visor and sunglasses.

Compared to this photo from the same race two years ago this is nothing.


The plan for the swim was to push hard but comfortably hard. I always find it hard to guage effort on swimming, I have two speeds (all out sprint) and my general swimming pace. I pushed hard from the hooter but couldn’t find a way through the swimmers in front until we made the first buoy. Then I nipped past a few swimmers and was in clear water. This continued for the last 450m. I exited in around 12 minutes and ran to transition while removing my wetsuit.

It amazes me how efficient I have got at this. I had the top half of my Archimedes off before I had hit dry land. Thanks for the breakaway zipper HUUB.

After reaching transition I stripped my wetsuit off and unracked #Rinnie and ran to the mount line. I hopped on and set about pedalling. Thankfully I had remembered to have my shoes undone.


Time to get some pedalling done. First job get my feet in the shoes. Second job elevate my HR above 160bpm and keep it there. For some reason my gears weren’t working correctly so I couldn’t sit in my usual gear and pedal at 90+ RPM, it was either sit in a higher gear and pedal at 85RPM or sit in a lower gear and pedal at 100+RPM. Given my lack of riding I decided to settle on the 85RPM gear. Not comfortable but moreso than pedalling at 100+ for me.

The bike course at Hatfield is flat with 5 hills (motorway bridges) and I rode the entire course in the big ring and only changed gear about twice. I was pleased to set an average pace of over 19mph given I hadn't ridden any bike in 3 weeks. My average HR was 164bpm and I was working that hard that I even vommed a bit in my mouth. Thats a first for me.

I only got overtaken by about 10 cyclists throughout the ride, which pleased me. As I was pulling into the Waterpark I took my feet out of my shoes in preparation for a flying dismount. I flew into T2.

Bike racked now for putting my trainers on and starting the run.

Since I have been using talc in my trainers, my T2's have gotten a lot quicker.


I even managed to smile on the run
Time for more suffering. It took me a while to find my running legs but I managed to get my HR above 170bpm quickly in my run. Despite the run route differing from 2012. 5km is still 5km. I made it to the turn point and wasn't passed once. On the return leg, my pace seemed to slow and I was really starting to hurt. I got passed by about 10 runners in the second half of the run.

This is my own fault as I have done little run training since Austria. I have lost a lot of speed and a lot of endurance. I was so relieved to make it onto the finishing field.  With less than 400m to go, I decided to push harder. I really wanted to get to that line.

I finished the race in 1:27:33 which was a 24 minute improvement on 2012.

24 minutes is ridiculous PB over a sprint distance and I really believe that with the right training there is still a lot more to come off that time especially as I hadn't trained properly going into the race. Who knows what my time will be in 2015 but one thing is for sure, I'll be racing to find out.

Below are the stats comparing 2012 and 2014.

As you can see I improved in every discipline which proves how much I have grown as a triathlete. I'm so proud of how much I have improved.

And if anyone doubts how hard I worked in this race, here is the proof.

Who shot me
Thanks for reading,


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Enjoyable torture in a pressure cooker

Last night marked my return to road running.

I know I run on roads all the time and run as part of triathlons but I have only entered 3 actual running races since I started this journey.

The Doncaster 5k was to be my third race as a runner and the second time I would get to pull on my club colours.

I left it until the last minute to decide whether to race as my knee had been causing me some discomfort but a quick visit to Blizard Physiotherapy last week helped cure the ailment. Yet again it looks like nerve tightness in my back causing me lower limb issues,

On Sunday I went for my first run since Austria and decided on a quick (actually it was quite slow) 5k near home. I trudged round in 29 minutes and was quite pleased with this having not run for exactly 2 weeks. I didn’t push hard but definitely felt the after effects for a few days.

So last night I went to register and was pleased to be back racing. I’ve found the post Austria rest enjoyable but frustrating at times. Some days I have felt great and others I have felt truly awful.

After registration I caught up with friends, some of the club runners and #runboss and watched the start of the Vets race before going for a quick warm up.

My knee felt a bit tight during the warm up but I’m not entirely sure this wasn’t in my head. Me and Martin ran a lap of the town centre including some strides and I genuinely felt good. I knew the heat would hurt me during the race.

When the heavens opened at 6pm, I prayed to the running gods that it could continue for another 150 minutes and then I could run in the rain. I much prefer running in the rain to running in oppressive heat, I just function better. But alas it was merely a shower.

We lined up for the race in the town centre. I positioned myself quite near to the front and on the outside of the course. I didn’t want to hold anyone up but also consider myself a runner, whereas last year I hung around at the back feeling awkward.

It's like Where's Wally. Photo courtesy of @doncasterrunner
The whistle went and we were underway.

I had targeted running the race above 171bpm and keeping it there as long as possible by setting my Garmin to alert me if it was lower.

After 100m my Garmin did it’s usual “beedlebee” to announce my HR was too low but I knew this was fine as we had only just started and had my HR gone from 70bpm to 171bpm in under 100m, I think I might have needed an ambulance or valium to take me to A&E or calm me back down. There were no more beeps  eminating from my Garmin so after a couple more minutes I glanced down at my watch to see 187bpm displayed.
Wow. How hard am I working? Photo from @doncasterrunner
187BPM. What the hell was I doing? Thats in my interval training zone and has only previously been seen on a treadmill when carrying out my lactate tests with Dave Tune spurring me on. No wonder I was breathing like some weird hybrid between a “60 year emphysema sufferer crossed with a male sex line operator”.

Well the plan was to suffer so I thought balls to it and pushed on at the same pace. I completed the first lap and felt absolutely horrific. The heat was dreadful but I carried on. Quick glance 181bpm.
End of 1st lap. Wow I look healthy. Photo courtesy of David Tune
I love the Donny 5km, you can get cheered on by friends, clubmates and the inebriated all in the space of 2 minutes. It really is a special race.

Quick check of Garmin as breathing hadn’t changed . Still 184 and feeling dreadful. Carry on? You betcha. Bring on the suffering.

By the end of the second of three laps some of the quicker runners (read race winner and about 17 others) had passed me. I had hoped to not be passed but I felt like I was running through treacle at this stage. I still had one lap to go so decided to keep the suffering up. HR 183bpm.

Another picture where I look a picture of health. Photo from @doncasterrunner
It transpires that my treacle running was justified. My first mile was a 7:12.

7 bloody 12. My fastest ever mile and proof that I might’ve overstretched myself given I haven’t run for two and a half weeks and haven’t run at speed since my last track session on the 10th June. My second mile was 8:40 and my third was 9:14 showing a steady decline after my earlier herculean efforts. Honestly 7:12? Was I on drugs?

Just for clarity, in case any of the organisers or people from WADA read this. No I bloody wasn’t.

So the race was completed in a (tbc) time of 26:02. Hardly record breaking and far from what I have achieved in the past.

But it is a new “race” PB.

And it came off the back of an injury and no hard running for 5 weeks.

This morning I expected to feel truly, well crap, I expected to have to walk down the stairs backwards. But I didn’t. I feel great. My legs feel fine and I can’t wait to race again on Sunday.

The race was important to me for a couple of reasons.

Fristly it helped banish any thoughts of long racing from my immediate future. Why? Well I truly suffered during this race and I can’t exert that much pain on myself for a longer race, but I have missed the hurt in the recent weeks. I love the feeling of beasting myself but I don’t possess it in me to keep it up for hours on end. If you had seen me at the finish line you’d have been tempted to call an ambulance as I was bent double propping myself up on the barriers with sweat dripping from my forehead but inside I felt alive.

Secondly it transpires that I possess the ability to well and truly suffer. My average HR for the run was 180bpm. This is harder than I have ever run before and although the time doesn’t reflect the effort I put in (given my actual PB is 22:53). I know I raced with honesty and heart. My previous 5k runs have seen my average HR be

169bpm for Blenhiem
169bpm for ETU aquathlon
168bpm for my last warm up run before Cologne.
168bpm for my actual 5km PB of 22:53 from April this year.

These are all in the right zone though as my tempo zone is from 167 – 186bpm.

But last night I absolutely beasted myself and completed all 5km with my HR well into my tempo zone. I didn’t die. Yes it hurt, but isn’t that the point?

So now with a renewed sense of vigour I know my distance. My distance is short, no more playing at going long as it isn’t for me.

I know how to suffer as I have done it.

Onwards and upwards. I have a score to settle in Doncaster in 364 days where I will be lighter, stronger, correctly trained and as a result a lot quicker.

I’d like to thank all the race marshals, all the spectators and all the people who cheered me on for making last night so enjoyable. Sorry I couldn’t acknowledge you if you cheered me, I was in a different place at the time.

Thanks for reading,


A sprint triathlete

Sunday, 13 July 2014

What's next?

The A race for 2014 has been completed after I got to the finish line in Klagenfurt.

I also managed to complete a wish in the run up to Austria when I got to pull on a GB Trisuit.

So what's next?

I honestly don't know.

I have a few sprint triathlons coming up over the next few months but as for the longer term goals, I haven't made any final decisions yet.

Given the fact that races for next year are already starting to open, I need to be quick and make some decisions. I'm 99% decided that I won't be completing any Iron distance triathlons in 2015.

The long training sessions alone are so boring and time consuming that they quickly absorb a weekend. It is only this weekend when I have nothing planned that I fully realised how little time I have been spending with my wife.

I am not ruling them out in the future though.

I think I need to learn how to truly suffer at shorter distances before I embrace the suck at iron distance.

However I have only raced one half distance and there is an itch there that I would like to scratch. The fact I could combine this with an early season break away with my wife makes it something I would like to discuss with my run coach.

As for the races that are coming up my calendar is quite full.

16th July - Doncaster 5k (if my knee is up to it)
20th July - Hatfield Sprint (the Hatfield in Doncaster not near London)
3rd August - London Triathlon Sprint
16th August - Swim With Other Teams Championships
23rd August - National Club Relay Championships
14th September - Leeds Triathlon Relay (swim)
21st September - Brigg Sprint
5th October - Drax Triathlon

I'm really looking forward to going shorter over the coming months and I think I will continue this vain into next year.

I am also going to make a concentrated effort to lose some weight. The quickest way for me to get quicker on the bike and run is if I weigh less. It's simple physics.

So next year will mainly be spent doing sprints with a possible entry to Ironman 70.3 Mallorca thrown in for good measure. After all I have a PB to aim for there. Who knows I may even attempt to qualify for the ETU sprint triathlon champs if my running gets better.

Thanks for reading,



After speaking with Dave Tune aka #runboss I have decided not to pursue any 70.3 races next year and will concentrate solely on sprint distance racing. Who knows I may even push the boat out with the odd Olympic distance.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

51685 seconds

Ironman Austria. What a race. What a difficult day for me both physically and mentally. 

I haven't mentioned this to anyone else other than those who I knew were racing in Austria because I didn't know how I would feel. 

Unfortunately 16 days before Austria my Grandma passed away. This shook me to my very core. Since losing my Mum in 2006 I have enjoyed making Grandma proud in what I achieved both at work and more recently in my sporting life. 

I found the week that followed extremely tough but had to complete the necessary miles if I was to be in any sort of shape come Sunday 29th June. The long run and long bike were extremely tough but in a funny sort of way allowed me to reflect on the good times as they were time alone with only my thoughts for company. They were cathartic in a physically painful kind of way. 

Anyway I digress. The last time I saw my Grandma in good health. She asked what I would be doing next and so I explained about Germany and Ironman Austria. 

Having told my Grandma about Austria I couldn't not see it through even though I would be racing with a potentially injured knee. 

For those that don't know I tweaked my knee 11 days before Austria and so very nearly pulled out but careful injury management enabled me to travel to Austria. The week before the race I did very little. I did lots of walking to strengthen my knee, I swam once in the beautiful Woerthersee (seriously you have to see it to believe it) and I rode my bike for 10 minutes.

The race plan was simple. Get to T2 with enough time left so that if needed I could walk the marathon to get to that finish line.

Race day

I woke up at 03:30 to get my race gear on and travel the half hour to Klagenfurt with my family. I went to transition to pump up my tyres and put my nutrition on the bike. I then made my way to the swim start where I got in the zone and put my wetsuit on. 

I had signed up for the first wave. This wave was to leave at 06:45, 15 minutes before the main wave at 07:00. There were 799 other competitors in this wave. 

The race was a beach start. I got to the beach 10 minutes before the start and collected my thoughts. I was stood there with 799 other people and all I wanted to do was cry. I found the wait tortuous. I was filled with a sense of pride, loss and achievement. So many emotions all bubbling to the surface. With my game face on I planned to use the nervous energy to my advantage. As soon as that cannon went it was show time. 

Paul Kaye counted us down in ten second intervals from one minute. 

1 minute - what are you doing? You're injured

50 seconds - take it easy swimming is your thing

40 seconds - lets do this

30 seconds - hang back at the start there's no point getting kicked or punched

20 seconds - shit this is happening

10 seconds - oh god





5 - this is for you Grandma






I trotted down to the water and waded for as long as I could before getting ready to swim. As I had hung back a bit from the melee that was bound to ensue I had some overtaking to do. So overtake I did. Whenever I caught someone up I would sight for clear water and put my body in the gap. I caught a few elbows and had a few kicks to the hand but nothing to really bother me. 

The 1.2km swim out was a thralling mass of moving body parts. If I couldn't find a gap I had to slow down until one appeared. I purposely took the first turn wide to not get caught up in the high jinx that can occur there. As soon as I had turned I aimed for the next buoy. After another 470ish m we turned and headed back for land. As soon as I turned I headed for the next buoy. I noticed that the water became a lot clearer. Either I had been dropped by the pack I was swimming with or someone was swimming off course. 

I was swimming to the buoys so I couldn't be to far off course, could I?

Actually yes I could. Unbeknownst to me the buoys had drifted. At each buoy I sighted for the mass of arms and they were 50m to my right. So I corrected and aimed to rejoin the pack before I saw a buoy and headed for that. After lots of zig zagging between the pack and the buoys we neared the infamous entry to the Lendkanal. I then aimed for the two flags which marked the entrance. Finally something to aim for which could not move. 

Stay on target. 

As we neared the entrance I knew there was another 1km to swim. The Lendkanal was shallow and due to the thrashing mass that had already passed the visibility had dropped as the silt on the bottom had been disturbed. The plan was to orientate myself off the canal bank and keep that a set distance from me at all times. 

There was one swimmer near me who could not swim straight he kept veering from one side of the canal to the other. After a little sprint I managed to pass this swimmer. My watch beeped marking that an hour had passed and I estimated that I was within 400m of completing the swim as I had walked the length of the canal before the race. I turned the last corner and saw the blue carpet. 

After being helped to shore I looked at the clock. It said 1:05:47. Wow I had PB'd the swim by nearly 5 minutes and I had taken it quite conservatively as I didn't know how hard I could push for the 3.8km. 

I love the fact that I have my wetsuit half off while someone is checking their watch.
Thanks Huub for making the Archimedes so easy to get off
I set about the jog to T1 but as soon as I landed on my right foot there was pain in my knee. Oh dear the weeks rest hadn't cured my knee. This was going to be a long day. I plodded to the change tent, put on my cycling shorts and kit and made sure I applied more suncream. It had forecast a hot day and I burn easily. There's no point risking skin cancer for 30 seconds in my eyes. 

I got to my bike and was pleased to see there were still a lot of bikes left from the first 800. 

Now just the little matter of 112 miles to contend with. 

The plan I had formed in my head was simple. I knew there were 3 significant climbs on each lap. Two of these were really severe and the other was short and sharp. I planned to keep my HR above 136 but below 156 on the flat or downhill, below 160 on climbs of no real importance and below 170 on the major climbs. 

The ride out to Velden (the first 20km) was fast and lovely. After Velden there was a fast descent which marked the start of a 30km loop which included two of the "major" climbs the first being the climb to Faakersee, which was another beautiful lake and the second being the climb up the first descent to complete the loop. I kept my HR in the zones I had decided on. I was feeling okay when I reached Velden for the second time and pushed on knowing that the final 40km had the infamous Rupertiberg climb. 

I can honestly say I have never witnessed the natural beauty that I was fortunate enough to see during this bike ride. The views were simply stunning. Until you see them with your own eyes you can't really comprehend them. Just wow.

Look at the backdrop
I reached the bottom of Rupertiberg and set about the ascent. This climb just kept going and going and going. At one point I reached a flat and thought that was it but rounded a corner to find myself faced with another ascent. Thankfully at the top there was an aid station where I filled up my water bottles before setting off again. What goes up must come down. So down we went. I hurtled down. At the race briefing we were told it was all downhill from the top of Rupertiberg. Oh how they lied. I was glad I did a recce of the course as there were at least another two climbs before I completed the loop of 90km. I completed the first 92k in 3:06:04 which I was pleased with. 

Now for lap two. There was a bout of heavy rain for the second lap to contend with. I knew what to expect, I knew when to push and when to hold back. I aimed to repeat the same rules with HR but my lack of long rides came back to haunt me. After the second ascent of Rupertiberg, I felt truly awful. My legs were starting to seize up and my quads and hip flexors were burning. I couldn't push hard enough to get my HR  above 136. I was on fumes. I then discovered coke at aid stations and after necking several glasses full of the stuff I felt a lot better. I pushed on for the last 25km and was relived to reach transition. My time for the second loop was 3:32:20 and the lack of long rides was apparent with the drop in speed. 

I reached T2 after 7:53:39 which gave me 9:06:21 to get changed for a run and complete a marathon. 

I walked through T2 and got changed in the change tent. I applied more suncream and some chamois buttr to my feet. Now it was time to see what this knee was like. I started to run and lasted 100m before there was a shooting pain in my knee. 

Oh crap. It looks like it was going to be 26.1 mile walk after all. 

I stopped, reassessed things and decided to soldier on. Like I said earlier I'd told my Grandma I was doing this race, so I was doing the race. I took some painkillers and decided to leave it an hour before attempting to run again. I put on my knee brace and set about walking. So walk I did. I completed over 4 miles in that first hour and tentatively took a few running steps after the hour had passed.

There was still pain. It was demoralising having to walk and having so many people pass me. But I was still moving forward. The crowd were so encouraging. Each group of people I passed urged me on with words of encouragement like

Lauf Michael - run Michael
Go Michael

It was amazing. 

After another 30 minutes were I was perhaps at my lowest with thoughts of my Grandma at the forefront of my brain, my wife and Dad appeared like a mirage before me. I hadn't seen them in nearly 3 hours and it was such a relief. I'm sure they could see the despondency in my face. Had my wife told me to drop out then I would have but she told me I had this. I nearly rang my run coach for a bit of encouragement but decided I could walk the last 20 miles in 7 hours and 20 minutes. So off I set again. My aim was to keep my walking pace as close to 4mph as I could. The heat was oppressive and I was so glad I had suncream in my running belt. I picked up sponges at each aid station and made sure I was hydrated. 

With newly buoyed spirits (but more likely painkillers working) I thought I would have one last go at running. With a sense of relief I could run pain free. Right time to knuckle down and get some miles in. The plan was to run for four minutes and walk for one minute for as long as I was pain free. I ran walked for the next 8 miles. I had no idea of pace but with a dogged determination I kept moving forward. After a total of 14 miles my painkillers were wearing off. I took two more paracetamol and settled in to walk some more. 
Grimacing through the pain
With another six or so miles under my belt, the pain when attempting to run was subsiding so I set off run walking again. It was at this point that I knew I would complete the Ironman. I had about four hours to get through 6 miles. I lessened the run intervals to two minutes as I was starting to tire. It was during this last six miles that I think I perfected the Ironman shuffle. It's not really a run but more of a lope from one foot to the other. I plodded onwards as the sun was starting to set. With less than 1km to go the heavens opened and that last km seemed to go on forever before I made it to the finishing carpet. 

I jogged down the finishing chute trying to savour the moment. But it was too crowded as someone was proposing to his other half. I didn't get my "Michael you are an Ironman" from the announcer but it didn't matter I knew I had completed the 140.6 miles and earned the right to declare myself an Ironman. 
Where is the damned finish?
I completed in 14:21:25 which was longer than I wanted but it was a finish and that's all that matters. I also PBd at iron distance by nearly an hour and on a much tougher course. 
Finally it's over
My Shinie
There are a few people I would like to thank who helped me get to the finish line on the day. 

Nick and Dougie. Your banter on Twitter has been immense for the past year and I thank you for the encouragement during the race. 

Scott B thanks for the high 5s, they helped keep my spirits up. 

Liz Hufton from Triathlon Plus thank you for the encouragement. 

Vicky Clarke for run walking with me on the second lap. It truly helped me keep moving forward having someone to talk to. 

Alan ?? for giving me a "you got this" after the second ascent of Rupertiberg where I was zoned out at the false flat before the aid station. 

I am also truly humbled by the support I have relieved on Twitter and Facebook. Coming back to so many messages of encouragement has touched me more than you will ever know. 

And now for the thanks to the people who have supported and believed in me

Everyone at Doncaster Triathlon Club for helping me train consistently

Everyone at Doncaster Athletics Club for helping me become a better runner. 

Dave and Jenny and the team at Blizard Physiotherapy for all the help and encouragement you have given me this year especially Dave who has helped me reassess my 2014 goals twice to get me in shape for two races at completely different distances within 4 weeks of each other. 

Dean and everyone at Huub for believing in me and featuring me in an advertising campaign. I am still shocked by this. I even got recognised at the race briefing for the advert. 

The people at TrainerRoad. Even though I got some severe abuse for spending so much time on the turbo over the winter. I know it helped me a lot and helped me increase my power on the bike. 6:38 is hardly record breaking but considering I weigh 15 stone and climbed 1900m its good enough for me.

Mark and the staff at TFN for getting #Rinnie ready to race by fitting a compact chain set to her. There is no way I could have done those climbs on a standard.

And now most importantly my family for supporting and believing in me. 

I am an Ironman and bloody proud of the achievement. 

Is that it for me and iron distance racing. Who knows? 

I won't be signing up for any in the near future until I have reassessed what I want out of triathlon with Dave at Blizard Physio. 

During the race I said never again and I know I am more suited to shorter racing but Ironman is like an itch that needs scratching and currently it's under my skin as I haven't had my perfect race yet. I want to run the marathon and suffer through the entire 140.6 miles.

Post event recap

I know my preparation for the event was far from ideal.

To be able to get to the end of the bike in under 8 hours when I have only twice ridden over 56 miles in the lead up to Austria shows what would really be possible if I truly applied myself to the training required.

I also only swim once per week so to be able to post a 65 minute swim when I swim a maximum of one hour each week again shows what could be possible.

Considering I only ran over 13 miles twice in the run up to Austria, it is no surprise at all that I found the marathon horrific. Even if I had been uninjured, my preparation was bordering on suicidal. Training to go long in four weeks was definitely not my wisest decision.

Now I just need to apply myself to my training if I decide to complete another iron distance race in the future.

I have withdrawn from Outlaw as I believe that it would have been too much for me to do two iron distance events in the space of 28 days.

So in summary it is possible to complete an Ironman with far from ideal training as long as you have the mental strength to get to the finish line. It is possible but it is not something I would recommend. 

Thanks for reading,

An ex smoking Ironman

A bit late. My pre IM blog.

When I started this journey. I had no idea where it would lead or how much it would change my life. I mean I signed up for a triathlon to raise some money for charity to help keep me motivated during my attempt to quit smoking. 

But since that fateful decision to quit smoking (for the second time) some 600 days ago. My life has changed dramatically. 

This week sees me complete another step on my journey. Ironman Austria. An Ironman is a long distance triathlon where each competitor completes a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run within 17 hours.

Now for a little bit of history. In 1978 (the year of the original Ironman in Oahu in Hawaii, 15 brave men attempted something that had never been attempted before. They attempted to complete the Waikiki Rough Water swim (2.4 miles) followed by the around Oahu bike course (112 miles and originally a two day event) followed by the Honolulu marathon. Those 15 people changed the face of long distance triathlon and they are part of the reason I am now in Austria.

Had it not been for them. There wouldn't be Ironman. And I wouldn't be sat here about to attempt a race that will undoubtedly be tough. 

Why Austria? In truth I have no idea. I signed up for this race before I'd raced Outlaw last year. Outlaw is a UK iron distance event and the 15 hours and 19 minutes it took me to complete in the 34 degree heat last July were not in the least bit pleasant. But Outlaw isn't an Ironman. Yes I know it's the same distances but it doesn't come with the same mystique or fabled crowd support of the machine that is the WTC (organisers of Ironman). 

I wanted to complete an Ironman. A fully fledged no questions asked Ironman. And for some reason I picked Austria. Austria has a swim in Lake Woerthersee (which is bloody beautiful) followed by a ride around Carinthia (again beautiful) with 1900m of climbing and a run through Klagenfurt. 

For those new to me. I was an overweight, exercise phobic, cigarette smoking, couch potato at the start of this journey. Now I am a less overweight, non smoking, exercise addicted triathlete who is about to complete an Ironman. In my youth I had to have a pin out in my hip aged 14 which would lead to severe arthritis aged 30 (or so the doctors said) and this is the reason I am going long so early into my journey. If I end up with arthritis I want to have done an Ironman. Just like I wanted to represent my country. 

In truth I am not strong enough to be competitive at such a long distance. Carrying the excess timber slows me down on the bike and hurts when I run. But I will do my damnedest to get round so that I can say I have. 

When I signed up for this race in Austria I hadn't been tested at Blizard Towers. In my initial lactate threshold. It turned out I'm not cut out for long stuff. I'm more cut out for faster shorter stuff like sprints due to the muscle build up in my body. But one thing I'm not is a quitter (apart from cigarettes) and I had signed up so I would train for it. 

So train I did. Until I saw the fact that  the BTF needed people to represent them in the European Triathlon Union Aquathlon Champs in Cologne. This was a way for me to represent my country and I grasped it with both hands.

With the support of Blizard Physiotherapy we altered my training plan to get me in the best shape I could be for a race that was a 1k swim and a 5k run. This meant dropping a lot of the longer stuff and working on my speed. With their help I set new PBs for the 5k run and entered the race in good shape. I should have dropped out of Austria when this chance arrived but I didn't. Stupid or stubborn?

So after the end of May I had 4 weeks to prep my body for a possible 17 hour endurance event. 

Again with the help of Blizard Physiotherapy and a lot of much needed nagging from #runboss Dave  I trained hard completing a 90mile bike and 17mile run at threshold heart rates in the last 4 weeks. 

Aside from the niggling rib injury from falling off my turbo (which prevents me getting aero on my TT bike) things were going swimmingly until after my 17 mile run over a week ago. Where, as a result of under training I have injured my knee. For most of the last week I have been unable to walk but things are easing in my knee with rest. 

I can now walk without pain. I can swim without pain and I can bike and climb on the bike without pain. 

I know I will get to the end of the bike ride on Sunday and I fully intend to start the run. However if there is any pain that I can't manage with painkillers I will pull out. It is only one race and I won't risk severe injury for one race even if it is one I have been signed up to for over a year. There are other races after all. 

I'm now all registered and it is just a case of playing the waiting game until I start my race at 06:45 (05:45 in the UK) on Sunday apart from dropping my bike off on Saturday. If you want to track me you can do on the Ironman Live website. My race number is 0289. Here's hoping I make it to the finish line. 

Thank for reading