2015 had been all about returning to Ironman racing, and at the time I reckoned it to be my toughest season yet. To top that experience I had decided that 2016 would be another year of Ironman, but this time I would be racing in Bolton. Having been a member of COLT (City of Lancaster Triathlon Club) for 5 years I had yet to experience racing up the legendary COLT alley in Adlington. Secretly, I also harboured a wish to put pressure on my Ironman PB from Ironman Regensburg in 2011. This was linked to the undeniable realisation that I was struggling to reach the times I was doing at the half-Ironman distance in previous years. I’m getting slower, the stopwatch never lies, so I needed to up my game.
Grizedale Trail Half Marathon
As in 2015, so my season began once again at the Grizedale Trail Half Marathon. This is rapidly becoming my favourite running event of the year and although I was slower than 2015 I got around comfortably enough. I’m even considering the full marathon distance for next year. Race report
Jodrell Bank Sportive
After?a break of 5 years I returned to this sportive for my first cycling event for 2016. I used to cycle the flat and fast lanes of Cheshire all the time when I lived in Stockport, so this 80 mile sportive was a nostalgia trip. It is characterised by a flat and fast route where it pays to work in a group. I worked hard on the day and posted just over 4? hours, beating my previous best by just over 2 minutes. Maybe 4:30 for 2017? Race report
Wrynose or Bust Sportive
Although this was the 5th time I’d lined up for this excellent and challenging sportive, my previous record was lamentable, including 2 failed to starts, 1 failed to finish, and 1 finish, but by a shorter route missing out 1 of the big hills. This time the weather was much better than the previous 2 times that I’d actually started and so I made it to the finish successfully. Adding the 6 mile ride to the start and back home again afterwards made the day my first 200km day on a bike. Race report
Howgill Trails Half
In trying to build fitness for Ironman UK in July, my next appointment in mid-May was the Howgill Trail half marathon. As half marathons go this is right up at the really brutal end of the scale with over 800m of ascent and some really technical and steep descents as well. My finish time of 2:43 was 5th in my age group. But the real tale was in the epic levels of muscle soreness the day after the race. Race report
Southport Olympic Distance Triathlon
A week after trashing my legs in the Howgills I was lining up for the Southport Triathlon for the second year in a row. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get near the previous year’s 2:34 although 2:48:54 was a bit further away than I had hoped. The strong wind on the bike didn’t help and the race was made all the more memorable for my first ever time penalty for a race number infringement!?Race report
Bala Half Ironman
After a few weekends off racing, next up was the Bala Half-Ironman. This was a return to this event since 2010 and I was hoping for a decent performance as it was my last race before the big 1. After a dismal swim I did a decent bike leg in 2:53 but melted on the run. I wasn’t the only one. With temperatures in the high 20s Celsius there were a lot of strugglers on the day. My finish time of 6:12:57 was over 30 minutes slower than 2010 with the swim alone accounting for 11 minutes of that. Disappointing. But it was miles in the bank for Ironman UK with still some time to rectify the swim issue. Race report
And so to my 5th Ironman and 3rd time at Bolton. Mid July is a big date for COLT, and this year there were 30 of us taking the start. It would be an epic day out. The swim, at 1:40 was acceptable considering my Bala performance of 5 weeks previously. The bike leg was compromised a bit by the windy conditions and 6:58 was a shade slower than the 6:45 that I’d hoped for. This made a PB look pretty unrealistic, but I still performed pretty well on the marathon, knocking a full 27 minutes off my previous best race marathon time. My overall finish of 13:54:48 was 0ver 8 minutes faster than my PB at Ironman UK. Race report
Ironman 70.3 Weymouth
After an August spent in the UK (no trip to Asturias this year) I was flirting with the thought of a second Ironman in one year. A few bike rides put me off the idea and I settled for the new Ironman 70.3 in Weymouth in mid September. In ideal conditions I swam the entire swim course with front crawl for the first time in 47 triathlons! The brilliant bike course was dispatched in 3:06 (it was slightly long, but I was still disappointed not to be sub 3 hours. The run was ok but I wilted quite badly towards the finish and stopped the watch in 2:00 hours dead. My overall time of 6:03:50 was over 6 hours yet again, but this time the lost minutes were down to poor transitions rather than actual racing. Race report
Lancaster Trail Half
This mid October jog along the Lancaster to Kendal canal has become my traditional season ender, but I’ll need to find a new race next year as this was the last edition. This race came in the middle of my attempt to run every day for the calendar month of October so I was not at all fresh when I started. My run went well enough, though, finishing in 1:46:08, a shade slower than in the last two times I’d competed here. Pleasingly, I was the first over 50 to finish. Race report
31 runs in 31 days
Inspired by Ben Smith I decide that even if I couldn’t do 401 marathons, I could at least run every day for a month. I picked October as triathlon season had ended and I wanted to hit 1,300km running for the year and was behind schedule. I also planned to run half marathons in October and early December. After a difficult start I actually enjoyed the experience, racking up 272km in the process. Report
315 Lancaster Half Marathon
Following my efforts in October I was keen to keep racing, but training fell of the rails in November through illness and injury. In the warm up to this race I could feel the hamstring pull that I’d tweaked earlier in the week and so I withdrew, bringing down the curtain on my 14th season of triathlon.
So what to make of my 14th year? Overall, it was at least as tough as 2015. My training was more consistent and I turned up on the start line for Ironman UK with considerable more running and cyclin miles under the belt than for Ironman Wales in 2015. As I write this I am close to my goals of 5,000km cycling and 1,300km running, which, if I hit these targets will represent an increase in volume of nearly 30% over the last 2 years. The increased mileage definitely paid off in terms of resilience at races, especially in the marathon at the end of Ironman UK. But it hasn’t resulted in more speed.
In terms of triathlons, 3 out of 4 races were compromised by a poor performance in transition. This is unusual for me as I have always used transition to make up for my relatively poor swim times. At Southport I was 2 minutes slower than 2015 (50% slower); Bala was the exception as I was almost a minute quicker. At Ironman UK I was a full 6 minutes slower than in 2010 (different transition layouts so direct comparison isn’t possible) and at Weymouth I was over 3? minutes slower. I have to improve this next year.
2017’s goal has to be to try to at least match the mileage of 2016 but add more structure and quality into my training sessions to try and recover some of that lost pace, especially on the bike. Maybe it’s time I got a coach?
I haven’t entered any races as yet and I’m wondering whether to concentrate on half Ironman distance next year to try and get close to that ever elusive 5:30. Having said that, next year should see me enter my 50th triathlon and it would be nice if it was Ironman UK…