2015 for me was all about returning to Ironman racing. After 3 seasons of half ironman and Olympic distance racing I felt I had recovered sufficiently properly from my Achilles problem to up the ante once more and compete in an Ironman. Ironman UK had already sold out by the time I decided to enter and Ironman Wales was well on the way prior to me putting my name down in December 2014. What remained was to put together a suitable race schedule to allow me to reach Tenby in top condition.

Grizedale Trail Half

I started the year in February at an icy cold trail run in the Lake District. Despite nearly coming a cropper jumping muddy puddles and the run being closer to 15 miles, I had an enormously enjoyable day out, kicking off 2015 in some style. I’ll definitely be doing this race again. Race Report

Original Keswick Triathlon

Running over Walla Crag

Running over Walla Crag

For once I didn’t do any sportives in the spring so there was quite a gap between Grizedale and my second race: the Keswick Original Triathlon. This was an Olympic distance race based on Derwentwater but with a fell run to finish. The plan was to use this race as prep for my first “A Day in the Lakes”. The swim was one of the toughest I’ve ever done on account of the cold. I was staggering all over the place as I exited the Lake and completely unable to race through T1. The cool day meant that I was well in to the bike leg before I was properly warmed up. The fell run didn’t disappoint and the views were stunning as was my super speed descent from Walla Crag! A great day out. Race Report

The Windmill Race

windmill raceTo keep up the tough theme I entered the first running of the revived Caton Windmill Race – running,?as the name suggests, up to the windfarm above Caton Moor. The addition of a post Keswick cold and asthma meant that I didn’t quite manage to race as hard as I wanted, but it was nice to be doing a local event. Running up and down hills seemed to becoming a bit of a theme for the year.?Race Report

A Day in the Lakes

This race has a legendary reputation for toughness, and I chose it specifically as a really hard workout prior to Ironman Wales. I wasn’t disappointed. Ullswater was quite choppy but was mercifully warmer than Derwentwater of a few weeks ago. Still, I had a very poor swim. Next up came the ascent of Kirkstone Pass with howling headwind, zero visibilty and lashing rain for added pleasure. The weather relented for the run, which was just as well as this was really tough: 550 metres of ascent was almost as much as the Grizedale trail. By the time I dropped off the hills I was really struggling with sore ankles and even the last few km on road were a trial. A superb course, but not for the faint hearted. Race Report

Cleveland Steelman

In 2014 I set a personal best for half-ironman, so my thinking here was that after all the tough hilly racing I’d been doing, a return to flat and fast would be fun. How wrong I was! The wind blew strongly for the whole day meaning that I was nearly half an hour slower than last year. Race Report

Los Lagos de Covadonga

Los Lagos selfie

Los Lagos selfie

Last year I rode up the Hors Categorie climb of Lagos de Covadonga from its base. This year I wanted to do it from the coast, which would mean an ascent of the 2nd category La Torneria, as well as numerous other long climbs. The resulting ride had a personal best of 5200 metres of ascent in under 130km and 7 hours in the saddle. It was the sort of ride that I hoped would pay dividends come the main event. Ride report?This ride was one of a number of superb rides I did in Asturias and Cantabria this summer including this one.

Ironman Wales

Into the finish straight (all rights reserved. Finisherpix)

Into the finish straight (all rights reserved. Finisherpix)

The return to Ironman racing went as well as I dared hope. 15? hours was about half an hour longer than I wanted, but this race was the toughest I’d ever done and I managed to finish with a smile on my face. The swim was a daunting dip in the Bristol Channel off Tenby North Beach, the bike was a brutal and beautiful roll around the Pembrokeshire National Park and the run a savage stroll through the streets of Tenby itself, The support throughout was awesome and the locals seem to have taken this event to their hearts. A brilliant event and a great way to return to long distance. Race Report

Lancaster Trail Half

A nice speedy half marathon was just the tonic for a return to racing some 6 weeks after Ironman Wales. My time of 1:40:01 was quick, but not quite as quick as last year. Race Report

Having signed up for Ironman Wales I deliberately chose tough events in the build up. Throwing a few sportives in during the spring would have helped. but overall the season was a great success. To put how hard I made the year into context, here are some numbers:

Running:

Total mileage in 2015 (to date): ?914km

Total mileage in 2014: ?596km

Total running ascent in 2015 (to date): ?12,239m

Total running ascent in 2014: ?4,846m

That’s an increase in running mileage of 50% and well over double the ascent.

Cycling

Total mileage in 2015 (to date): ?3.445km

Total mileage in 2014: ?4,153km

Total cycling ascent in 2015 (to date): ?43,407m

Total cycling ascent in 2014: 39,793m

So although I didn’t put as much mileage in on the bike, what I did was hard.

 

What of 2016? I have already entered Ironman UK for July, so my spring season will gear up for that. It will probably look something similar to this year but I’ll do an easier half than A Day in the Lakes, and I’ll try and get some sportives in to build up more resilience on the bike than this year.

So That’s the season done. It has been a great year of racing, and in particular I have enjoyed doing races in spectacular settings. The views I have taken in during racing in the Lake District and Pembrokeshire have been breathtaking at times. I hope that next season lives up to this.

Seasonal goodwishes to all.

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