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Tiegan's Star http://tiegansstar.com My WordPress Blog Thu, 23 Jul 2015 10:40:57 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.0.2 Ironman Zurich – Complete (just) http://tiegansstar.com/2015/07/23/ironman-zurich-complete-just/ Thu, 23 Jul 2015 10:40:57 +0000 http://tiegansstar.com/?p=244 https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/ayearfortiegan

And so that is that. Two marathons, an Ultra Marathon, an Ironman and 128 days without an alcoholic beverage. What a year it has been.

The Ironman, unfortunately, ended on a slightly more sour note than the others, but I made it through, and what a day it was.

The lead up in Zurich was quite dragged out, having an activity a day to attend to and having a lot of free time where I had to resist doing anything too taxing. We landed on Wednesday morning to glorious weather that was expected to stay all week until Sunday, event day, where it was due to thunderstorm all day. Great. After putting the bikes together, Steph and I took them on a small spin to make sure they were working fine. The rest of the day was spent trying to acclimatise to the weather (sunbathing) and then out for dinner where we learned very quickly how expensive it was going to be in Zurich!

The following day registration opened and we planned to cycle up one of the hills that was on the course once we were registered. When we woke up, we went for a swim in the Lake. With my expectations fully written out for a non wetsuit swim, I didn’t take t to the lake. Boy that was slow. In hindsight, some of the slowness can be down to not knowing if I was crossing a ferry path or not… But it was a lovely swim. Clear, cool water with beautiful views of the mountains. At lunchtime we headed up to the expo and we received our bag along with our transition bags. We were in. The expo was just being built, so the opportunity to waste money on stash I didn’t need was taken away from me. Bonus! Once we had registered, we grabbed lunch from the food hall – by far the most economic place to eat! The pasta bolognese was lovely – mass produced food that was the same quality as restaurant food. Note that, schools, hospitals etc.

And off we went for a practice up ‘Heartbreak Hill’. We looked at a map to work out where we were going, turn right after Kilchberg station. Simple. We did that, climbed a hill that was taxing but nothing horrendous. We met at the top and spoke about how simple it felt. We cycled the next section and stopped at a turning with a steep incline – maybe this is Heartbreak?! A sign next to it, written in German, said something about Ironman Zurich on Sunday 19th July. So we did this hill too – tougher, but very short. The views were phenomenal.

We cycled back to the hotel, and the rest of the day was ours to relax as we liked. That evening I took a look at where we cycled online and realised that neither the first nor the second hills were Heartbreak Hill – so a third attempt to find it was required! It was harder than the others, but still not too challenging – the thought of it after 175km was a different matter though! At the English race briefing was the first time all 11 of us racing were there together, it was a great crew of people doing the event and we chilled for the afternoon before attending the pasta party that evening – all you can eat food! Saturday was the quietest day, we had to hide from the sun and check our bike and equipment in.

Race day. The alarm went off at 4.25am – a lie in compared to when some people got up. Breakfast at the hotel – porridge with apple sauce and some croissants. Back to the room to collect the rest of my stuff and get changed. The text I received from Ironman the previous night contained the bad news of wetsuits being banned due to the temperature of the water so that stayed in the room. We got the train to the start and were with our racked bags and bikes by 5.50. Water bottles and nutrition on the bike, sun cream on the body and in the run bag and I was ready.

The swim.

We lined up in our expected swim time – I went in the 70-80 minute section as that was my targeted wetsuit time – I figured everybody else would be doing the same. Off we shuffles in our waves of 10, every 5 seconds going into the water. And into the water I went. Going in waves was brilliant, it was still tight and there was still a bit of fighting for space, but nothing compared to mass starts. I tried to settle into a rhythm and then thought about anything other than the swim. That didn’t really happen and the first straight went on for a long time. I worked my way around to the Australian Exit – lap 1 complete. Up on the island and ran around a few people, they were walking – I didn’t get that so I may have had to nudge a couple of people out the way and splash gracelessly back into the water. Lap 2. You couldn’t see a thing going back out, swimming straight towards the sunrise you had to rely on other people and your instinct in swimming towards the buoy. It wasn’t ideal, but I was there. My swim hat was coming off, which was annoying and eventually towards the end of the swim it came fully off. Under the bridge once more and up onto land. I clicked my watch and couldn’t believe it – 1h26. I had expected 1h20 with a wetsuit and therefore around 1h35 without. I was delighted, especially when I saw I had swam 4.2km instead of 3.8km! Transition, grab my bag. Dry my feet, socks on, shoes on, cycling helmet, glasses, toilet, bike.

The Bike

The first 28.5km is a flat ride around the lake. I couldn’t get my legs to settle into any rhythm on the bike, it was seeming like a chore instead of what should have been an easy start to the bike. Part of this was the course, in my head I had convinced myself it would be dead flat – not sure why but that’s the way my head had processed it. It wasn’t hilly at all, and as roads go, it was as dead flat as you shall see but the longer slight inclines wound me up slightly, which is ridiculous. I said I wanted to have the first 30km done in an hour, as I turned at the roundabout at the end of the lake, we started a climb. Pretty simple climb and a few rolling hills for the next while. 30km – 56 minutes. Delighted. Up next was The Beast – a hill named locally as this. It was pretty steep and longer than I thought. Small cog, about half way on the rear cassette and spin. It was a fun hill, but the heat was getting up. Cheeky descent and then another climb. This one a long shallow but grinding hill, big cog territory but it was getting warmer. I reached the top of that and realised I was going to fall slightly shy of my 3hour first lap target, shame but I was happy that I didn’t blow lots of energy on the first lap – so I thought! At the aid station I picked up my cheese and ham baguette. Real food was beautiful. And down some lovely descents, back onto the lakeside and a flat around the Heartbreak Hill. I was excited for Heartbreak, the videos and the talk before was that it was like Tour de France – crowds cheering at the side and a narrow single file space to climb through the crowds. In my head, I had pictures this to be all the way up, but in hindsight that’s ridiculous, that would be 3000 people! I kept myself spinning up, not wanting to smash up it. This went well until the last 100m when the crowd was there. It was brilliant, out of the saddle and smashed it up the final bit. It was such an amazing atmosphere. Down the final descent and back to the start – 1 lap done. 3h04. Just outside what I wanted. Towards the end of the first lap, my back had started to stiffen up – a problem I had got rid of until the Ultra Marathon a few weeks ago. I tried to settle back onto my tri bars for flat section but couldn’t get comfy. A toilet break eased it a bit but it still wasn’t great. I got around to first climb and the temperature had got ridiculous. My nutrition plan was borderline gone, and when I hit The Beast it fully went. It was too warm to eat the bars I had on my bike, so I had a gel at the bottom and had picked up an extra isotonic drink at the stations and moved to a liquid only nutrition for the final 60km. As I was climbing The Beast I genuinely felt like my tri suit was melting to my body, it was horrendous. At this point, I reevaluated my target times. 6h40 on the bike, 4h run. In these temperatures I would still be delighted with that. As I got back to the lake for the final time, I felt awful. I went along the flat in a poor cycling position knowing it was costing me precious time but it was the only way to be comfortable and I knew my back would ease up on the run.  Heartbreak Hill round 2 was less busy but I still couldn’t resist the out of the saddle finish on the top through the crowds. Descend and a bit of flat and I dismounted, 6h36. Happy with that. Now for the bit I was most looking forward to, the run!

The Run

I knew my nutrition was down, so I walked through the first 3 aid stations to ensure I took enough on. After 7km I felt good, I started to hit my rhythm and was going well under my 4h target speed and I was happy, smiling and enjoying it a lot. And then things went wrong. As I stretched a step out, I felt a huge twang in the hip flexor, followed by a piercing pain and the smile quickly vanished off my face. I tried to stretch it out and run it off but to no avail. I walked whilst I figured out what to do and when I had found a shuffle that half worked, I felt my left hamstring not being happy so that stopped quickly – the last thing I needed was the other leg going too! This was when I got into a sulk. I had worked out I had 3 and a half hours of walking…. I walked for an hour of that before trying something new. I was completely defeated at this point and I had settled into a walking routine next to another guy who was too tired to run. This frustrated me more, I had bundles of energy. I wasn’t too tired to run, I wasn’t malnutritioned, I was just injured. What a rubbish way to end the year. I had walked/experimented running techniques for 15km by the time I found one that worked – kinda. It was basically one legged running, dragging my right leg along. But it worked. I got up some momentum and kind of some speed and managed to get myself to the end. It was nothing short of a horrible mental experience, one which my stubbornness was actually a valuable asset! It may have been a 5h04 marathon, which I am embarrassed to write after all my running thing year but it was the hardest thing I have done. Ever.

13h201h50 shy of my target, but given the conditions I would have been happy with my mid-race re-evaluated target of 12h20ish. The final nail in the coffin was the injury. Over the race I managed to lose 3kg and burnt around 9000 calories – which shows you the stress that the body goes under in such conditions.

I’m happy – I did it. But also disappointed, after having a good swim and cycle and feeling good it was my run which I was excited for the most and that’s where things went wrong. But nothing that I could have helped, it wasn’t lack of training, it wasn’t that poor of a performance on the day. I shan’t be doing another one for a few years, but I definitely need to do another one to see if I can nail all 3 disciplines on the day without luck/fate taking over and tarnishing the day slightly.

And that’s me done. Thanks to all who have helped me over the year, thanks for all who have donated. On Monday I had my first beer for 128 days and it was a fantastic feeling to know that I am finished and can have a social life back again!

https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/ayearfortiegan

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One week to go!!! http://tiegansstar.com/2015/07/12/one-week-to-go/ Sun, 12 Jul 2015 19:38:27 +0000 http://tiegansstar.com/?p=240 https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/ayearfortiegan

2 weeks ago I was taking my tired legs for a little walk around Lake Windemere, enjoying the scenery and sunshine of the Lake District. Today I am in a mountain of packing and planning. On Wednesday I fly out to Zurich and in 1 weeks time I shall be asleep cuddling my Ironman medal (hopefully).

Since the Ultra I have struggled with a couple of niggles, mainly my hip flexors. The week after the run I went for a couple of small bike rides, keeping my legs spinning whilst not putting too much strain on them. It wasn’t until Saturday that I started feeling it – the first time I ran since the Ultra was during cricket. Having watched our batsman (mainly Luke – 161) smash runs about, we headed out to field. A few turn and sprints after the ball and the hip flexor twinged. It settled down, but waking up Sunday morning not able to walk properly is not ideal with a plan to get a final long cycle in. Last big training lost!

Earlier that Saturday, having seen the water temperature in Zurich (27 degrees!), I went in the lake for a non wetsuit swim. Slow. That’s the only way to describe it. I was 20 seconds slower every 100m than with a wetsuit. That’s almost 13 minutes slower over the Ironman swim. The good news is that it rained last week and the temperature dropped to 21 degrees. I am praying for rain on Friday in Zurich! Since then I have done minimal – a couple of runs, couple of short bikes and a swim class. Today I went out on my final proper training session – Brick training session. Brick is short for Bike-Run-ick. Bike session, followed straight after by a run. The ick, is the feeling you have in your legs when you start running after a bike ride. It’s more important for shorter triathlons, like Olympic distance, but as a final training session it was handy to remember how to get my legs working properly again. The session today included a 55km cycle followed by a 12km run. The cycle at just under my race pace (more undulating roads, wort rod surfaces, not fueled fully, etc.) and the run was at my targetted race pace, despite taking myself up some horrible hills during the run.

This week I shan’t be doing much, small swims, bikes and runs but nothing at all straining leading up to Sunday. The race starts at 7am Zurich time, so in an ideal world I shall be finished and drinking a Guinness by 7pm. My targets: 1hr 20 swim (1.35 if non wetsuit), 6hr 20 bike followed by a 3hr 40 run – plus time for transitions and any slip ups to keep me under 12 hours.

I have hit £1000 raised for Tiegan’s Star. Let’s see how high I can get that. Please donate if you haven’t, and thanks to all who have donated so far.

https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/ayearfortiegan

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A great first, a missed opportunity, or both? http://tiegansstar.com/2015/06/30/a-great-first-a-missed-opportunity-or-both/ Tue, 30 Jun 2015 16:40:35 +0000 http://tiegansstar.com/?p=227

http://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/ayearfortiegan

Wow, that was tough. I expected as much, but by the sounds of the experienced trail runners I was talking to during the run – that was really tough.

A 55km Ultramarathon, that was actually 58km, in the Lake District climbing over 1800m. i had to write that to make sure I keep remembering what I ran on Saturday. Here I will go through what I remember of the race, the ups, downs & flats (not many flats).

At midnight on Friday night (Or Saturday morning, if you’re one of those people), the real race started – 110km. Not for the feint hearted, or the people with 5 months of preparaton under their belt. When I signed up, I had considered doing that one. How glad I am that, for once, common sense won a fight in my head. So to my race. After a good nights sleep in our little cottage in Ambleside, I woke up at 7am (a lie in!). Downstairs pretty much straight away for breakfast number 1 – crumpets. Followed by TV and breakfast number 2 – porridge with raisins and apple sauce. After that, I checked that I had everything that I needed, water bottles were filed up and we headed down to the starting area for around 10am. We stood around, awkwardly, occasionally chatting to other people as what normally happens at the start of races. Numerous small talk & toilet visits later & the pre race safety talk started, followed by the announcement that we would be delayed slightly as the leader of the 110km race was going to finish about the same time we started so we would cheer him in. 10 hours 45. That is a ridiculous speed. Fair play to him, GB ultra runner and from brief conversations with him on the Sunday – a nice down to earth guy.

So as he sprint finished, we cheered, whistled and clapped, he walked through the crowd of 55km runners awaiting to start, probably wanting to do nothing but lie down rather than smile and get patted on the back lots. THen our count down started from 10 and we were off. I had a race plan. I did not follow my race plan from moment one. Adrenalin can be a bitch. Stay in the middle pack, don’t hare off and conserve your energy. Off I went, into the front group. First 15 of us breaking out of the park, then the hill started and there was 10. The hill carried on – 5 of us. The hill reached half way (3km) – 4 of us. When we had completed the first climb of 6km, we had a feed station. I didn’t really want it at that point but I took a bit on board and carried on. In third place. I said to myself that when we start going down hill, the fell runners will take over, I will have overcooked it and hundreds of people will go past me. This happened… Except for it was 3 fell runners. For the next 10km I kept two of these guys in my site as I struggled down what they made look easy. It was a techinical, twisty trail route tht required my full concentration to ensure I didn’t fall/break an ankle/die. This was where error 1 came in. I didn’t eat. My race plan was the eat every 5km and at the top of climbs. I was concentrating too much on keeping up with these guys that I forgot my plan. Rookie error!

We then came to the next climb, the first guy was gone – and turned out to be the eventual winner. The other two were within site, and my climbing skills won another battle. I scooted past them relatively early in the next climb and found myself in third at the top of the massive climb. What I did do correctly, and am happy with myself is choose when to run and when to walk well. If the hill was so steep that you were running at the same pace as you were walking, then walk. Simple. I got to the top of this climb and felt good, I looked down on Grisedale Tarn and it looked beautiful. But I didn’t eat – idiot moment number 2. I looked back and could no longer see either of my friends, but I knew they would get me on the downhill. I started my descent well, and with the occasional look over my shoulder, neither were still in site. I was in 1.5km of the next checkpoint – where Chloe was waiting – when I heard the first guy behind me. Then I realised how hungry and thirsty I was. I didn’t eat or drink the whole of that climb and descent – idiot number 3. I stopped and got some food out, downed some drink and the two guys passed me. Down from 3rd to 5th – but the stop was needed – so I thought. I trundled into the next check point to find a very surprised Chloe – I was fifth. This checkpoint was amazing, and that was my downfall. Into the school building and there was coke, water, flapjacks, noodles, crisps. I had a bit of everything (except the noodles). I saw the guy who was 4th inside the building and he was drinking his own drink – shit! I hadn’t drunk my peronin. Peronin is a drink essentially made for people who need energy but don’t/can’t take on solids. Used in a variety of endurance events and probably has a better history than I have just given. Anyway, as I walked out of the school to have Chloe’s phone in my face taking some flattering photographs, I downed that. On top of all the food I had just ate. Idiot mistake number 4 – binge eating/drinking. I felt awful, I was half way, but I was in 5th – 5th!!! Okay, 6th, as I drank the Peronin, someone else nipped through. Bastard. On we go.

I had looked at the course previously and there was one climb after this checkpoint and then it got easier – idiot mistake number 5 – don’t judge on pretty elevation drawings and maps on the computer. It was a km or so until the climb and I felt good – I was catching the other guy up so I decided to carry on running up the hill until it got too steep. Brilliant, 20m behind him now. I felt awful, and after two minutes of stop starting up the climb, everything I had eaten or drank in the past 30 minutes emerged. Sorry for ruining the natural beauty of the Lake District. The only bonus was that Peronin takes 6 minutes to get into your intestines and for your body to make great use of it. It had been about 15, so that was in my body. I drank all my water to get the taste out of my mouth and replace the fluids I lost – normally a wise plan except I had another 7km until I got to the next checkpoint and it was 25 degrees. I got to the top of the climb and started the descend, near the bottom of this, two more guys caught me up. Down to 8th and feeling awful. Another one, 9th and feeling like quitting. I had no energy, I was dehydrated and a marshal has just told me I have 4 miles until the next checkpoint. I stood still next to the marshal, took in a deep breath and looked at where I was running to. It was a slow, steady incline – one of those horrible ones that burns your quads and calves so much – stuff it. Let’s go. I am so glad I did. It wasn’t 4 miles, it was about 3. That is a huge difference. I was making my way through a woody area when another guy made his way past me, and another one. Outside the top 10 now, The ridiculous thing is, I never would have been anywhere near this in my mind yet I was so disheartened. Then a noise that has never sounded so sweet – cow bells. A checkpoint!! I completd the hill to find the next check point – I hadn’t expected it for another 10 minutes so this was amazing news. More people got to the point, a couple left but I took on fluids and food. I filled up my bottles and as I was leaving the marshal pointed out that I now had some colour back in me. Surprisingly, it was exactly what I wanted to hear. Positive news.

4 of us left at the same time as we ran through the woody section of the race and we stayed together until the next checkpoint – occasionally someone would find some energy and get a bit of distance, but they would stop for food or drink and everyone would regroup. This section was tough. The terrain was proper traily. That sounds silly, but it just was. We went from running on tree roots to big stony paths to marshes – it was great but tough. Not much really happened during this section, we stayed chatting about various things and time disappeared. We were not going overly quick, but I had now gotten over the idea that I could finish in the top 5, 10, 15 or even 20. I was now back to my original aim – completion. My energy was recovering and I was starting to feel normal again. Although still not eating much, I was drinking a lot more. I timed my drinking in distance until the next checkpoint and with 1km to go, finished my water – finally, a plan followed properly. In we came to Sticklebarn pub to the site of a lot of 110kms leaving – they had been walking/running/trekking for 16 hours. It gave me a bit of inspiration to keep going. The four of us sat in Sticklebarn filling our fluids up and snacking on the greatest snack of all time (maybe an exaggeration, but at the time, this is what it felt like) of salty freshly cooked chips.

And off we went. 12km to go.My energy was up, was stayed together for a bit, walking up the next climb and then we found a flat. I looked down and realised how small my strides were – probably around 70cm when I normally strides around 124cm on an average run. I stretched out, it hurt a lot, but it also felt good. I told the guys that I was going to push to see what I had left in the tank, and then didn’t see them again until after the finish. Off I went, making god pace considering all that I had been through. Going past the 110kms in front of us who were walking their final section as well as a few 55kms who were just too cooked to run anymore. There were a few climbs were really not wanted at that point, bringing me back to a walk when I had found some rhythm but I made sure I got running again. And then a descent. A really steep tarmac descent. I was about 200m down it when I heard the tannoy at the finishing line. I got a bit excited and then remembered that we could still go away from it before coming back towards it. Then I heard trainers slapping on tarmac – a guy I had overtaken up the hill suddenly had energy. As he shot past me he shouted, 300m to go! I tried to peer down to the bottom of the steep hill to see if it was a trick, or that he was wrong. I decided to trust him and let myself fly down the hill, almost making friends with a stone wall as the road hairpinned. Down to the bottom, over a small footbridge and into the park. 100m run and then a right turn and there it was. The finish. As the tannoy announce my number and name, I relaxed as I crossed the finish line. Chloe informed me she thought I was in the top 10, I wasn’t so sure, but she had been at the finish for a while watching people come in so I trusted her and couldn’t believe it. I’ll take that for my first ultra, even if I have regrets. Next time, I shan’t be so rookie.

So to answer my question in the heading of this article, I will go for both. It was a great first ultra, but it was a bit of a missed opportunity. I think I lost about 20 minutes in the middle due to being sick and having to refuel. That would have had me within 10 minutes of the leader – something I would had been informed of when getting to the last checkpoint, which then would have spurred me on. Could I have done it? We wont know. But the competitor in me would have given it a bloody good go anyway!

9th place out of 521 starters. 7 hours, 18 minutes & 38 seconds. 

http://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/ayearfortiegan

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Entering the final month! Countdown is on. http://tiegansstar.com/2015/06/25/entering-the-final-month-countdown-is-on/ Thu, 25 Jun 2015 16:12:42 +0000 http://tiegansstar.com/?p=225 http://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/ayearfortiegan

It’s been a long time since signing up to these events and the time in between then and now has gone at different speeds depending on what I have been doing. With time having been dragging since the Prague Marathon, the last couple of weeks have flown by ad I am fairly sure the next 3 and a half weeks are going to go even quicker. I’ve even managed to go beyond the 100 days without a drink with my total tallying up to 104 now – 23 to go!

As I pen this – can I claim to be penning it when I am typing it? We’ll go with key. As I key this, I currently have a bedroom floor surrounded with piles of various items as I pack for Saturday’s Ultramarathon. Nutrition, mandatory items, clothes to run in, clothes for different weather & clothes for the couple of days after. Simple…

Keeping with my tactic to focus on the cycling to make the most out of the Ironman, not a lot of running has been done since my weekend training in the Lake District – but I dont see this being a problem this weekend. If I had focused on my running a lot, I could have smashed it, but with the two events so close to each other, I had to take a priority. In the last two weeks I’ve had two 100km cycles and covered 50km of intense indoor evening training – each session I could feel the improvement – leading nicely towards the Ironman in 3 weeks time. The bonus of not drinking is that I am not spending that money – so I treated myself to a couple  of toys to help my training this year and beyond. A new turbo trainer that can link up to the computer & adjust the resistance depending on the resistance the computer sends to it. This can be used for Zwift – the game that I spoke about previously – or on training programmes which set specific interval training. This means that training is more realistic as well as keeping me paying more attention as gear changing is vital if I want to keep my momentum up. The other gift, was a bike sat nav. I’ve started to get bored of the local roads, so by using this I can plan my rides beforehand and then load it onto this. Guiding myself to places that I only know how to drive to via motorways, which is always interesting.

Running wise, I have just ensured I have kept my legs ticking over, remembering what it is like to run. The course has a reasonably tough start on Saturday, with quite a lot of hills early doors not allowing my legs much time to settle. The advantage is that it doesn’t start until 11am – giving me plenty of time to prepare in the morning. I have no real idea how long idea on how long it will take me but I am setting a target of 8 hours. Not sure how my legs will feel during it – they could completely die and I could end up walking and having a race for time on the 13 hour cut off!

I’ll write a report early next week on the outcome of the race. Wish me luck!

http://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/ayearfortiegan

 

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5 weeks & 2 events to go! http://tiegansstar.com/2015/06/13/5-weeks-2-events-to-go/ Sat, 13 Jun 2015 17:26:33 +0000 http://tiegansstar.com/?p=214

Donate to: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/ayearfortiegan

The value of a quiet evening is increasing rapidly when I get the chance, such are the intensity of my sessions at the moment. The last blog left us a week and a half ago having just started morning sessions. The run is quite easy, as I have an end destination. The getting up to go into the garage is not so easy, my motivation gets stretched here a bit!

That got me through the week and onto a train to Wigan on Friday night. Come Saturday morning, Sam and I packed our bags and off we drive to the Lake District. Sam had a route planned that included a lot of climbing and running along ridges – perfect for what I needed. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be! The wind was ridiculous. We set off with a few early steep hills, the legs weren’t warmed up fully for them yet but we drive through and started feeling nice and strong as they loosened. Once we got to around 10km, a ridiculously steep cliff face was the next challenge – which ended in a bit of disappointment. When we got onto the ridge, it was too dangerous. The wind moved you with the gusts, and neither of us fancied a trip down the side of the ridge when the wind got ahold of us. Photo below shows me almost being blown away.

Improvisation was needed, and luckily Sam knew the area. The route wasn’t a pretty loop like previously planned, but it was a good loop. 34km covered around the Lake District with over 1000m of elevation gain. Huge confidence boost for me, I felt like I could go on.

It was a completely different kettle of fish to the running I was used to. Even down to the simple things. I will never eat solid foods whilst running on the road, and I will never stop to eat on the road but taking a minute every so often to eat an energy bar or a flapjack is very important when up in the hills.

On Sunday it was a short swim in the lake, around 1500m to loosen the legs before a shorter run of 12km around the trails more local to Sam’s house. A fry up for brunch and then back on the train back down to the big smoke to complete a brilliant weekend of training and a great catch up with a good mate.

This week has been a bit of a mixture due to two days being spent on courses and a bit of a training hangover from the weekend. Monday’s swimming class was a struggle but I managed to realise a way to make myself quicker if I can perfect it within the next 6 weeks. My early alarm went off for the turbo training session on Tuesday, it was a struggle as I was very tired from the weekend, but I got a short time in and managed the same later in the day. The alarm was rejected on Wednesday, far too tired, before getting home and getting a longer turbo session that afternoon. Early course finish was ideal! Thursday and Friday ended up being rest days. Mornings were too much of a struggle and my body didn’t want it. Bad times but it happens.

Today’s swim was brilliant. 4 laps of the lake, so 3200m total at exactly the speed that I want to swim in Zurich. Very good news! Cricket was called off today, rain won the battle. I considered using the time for training, but with a 120km cycle in the morning, a rest wouldn’t be the worst preparation.

With two weeks exactly until the Ultra Marathon and 5 weeks and 1 day until the Ironman, these next few weeks are vital for my training with longer cycling and swim sessions to push myself to the peak prior to tapering down to the events.

And just a few stats for you:

Total distance Swam since February: 33km

Total distance Cycled since February: 544km

Total distance Ran since February: 447km

Days sober: 91

Don’t forget to donate! https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/ayearfortiegan

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Mornings become earlier, distances become longer, days are suddenly much, much shorter… http://tiegansstar.com/2015/06/02/mornings-become-earlier-distances-become-longer-days-are-suddenly-much-much-shorter/ Tue, 02 Jun 2015 18:31:12 +0000 http://tiegansstar.com/?p=206 After a week of resting, I was surprised how easy I found it to do nothing. When I have had a rest days after events I’ve been quite agitated and wanting to be out and about, but doing nothing whilst my back healed was easy. Maybe I needed the rest, the week off, to rejuvenate me before the last slog towards the end.

The Saturday morning alarm went off and I got myself up and off to swimming. Originally planned as the first 4km swim, this was downgraded prior to going in as I didn’t think it was worth risking my back. 2.5km swam at the same pace as the last session – good to know that that is the speed I can settle in at, now to see if I can eat off those precious seconds per 100m in the next 7 weeks.
Saturday afternoon was again dedicated to cricket, home to Sawbridgeworth and a win – 3 from 3.
Sunday morning – no alarm – and I roll out of bed. Back is not great, should have stretched properly after cricket. I wander around the house a bit, get myself some breakfast and then get myself out on the bike. I had planned a 100km route online and downloaded it onto a borrowed Garmin Edge 1000. This would ensure that I would get a single loop cycle instead of repeating sections and crisscrossing my loops like I had been previously. My back was sore, but I decided I had to continue. 60km in and my back loosens up. As I work out where I am on my route, I realise I have gone a lot slower than planned. As I put the bike away I’m not sure what to feel – I tell myself that it’s the longest cycle so far, there were some awful roads and the route was very undulating. But the pace was slow. It’ll get there, I hope!
Bank Holiday Monday, when writing a training plan, it’s always a bit exciting to come across a bank holiday. Either for that extra training session you can get in or for extra rest. Yes, I realise how sad that is….
For me, it was the former. 27km trail running around the Chilterns. Ashridge Boundary Run is a race that takes place in March, but it is a marked out trail, funnily enough, around Ashridge. That was my first real trail run since a couple of casual runs with my friend Sam at University. As with my other long training runs, I didn’t take food or drink and I noticed the difference. Towards the end I was really struggling on small hills, desperate for some nutrition of sorts. I won’t make that mistake again on the trails! I felt good though, it was great training and great for my mind to know that I can run on that sort of terrain and not have any joints collapse.
For the rest of the week I covered my usual bases: cricket training, gym, turbo trainer, wattbike and an early morning trail run to Welwyn North.  The weekend just gone was always a write off – Friday night curry with some mates and then cricket both days – not ideal for training but I felt rejuvenated this week when my training steps up again!
This week is the week where morning sessions join the plan. Two mornings on the bike in the garage before heading to work, with the alarm pinging at 4.50am to get the session in. It’s a great way to wake up, but the evening sessions are suddenly that much tougher!
There is also the fact, if the exercise isn’t enough to convince you to support my fundraising, that I have now been 80 days sober, with 47 more to go until I drink again.
This weekend I head up North for a proper trail run session – guided by Sam, who has been loving his trail running of late. He will be pushing me to my limit, but it will be well worth it come 3 and a half weeks time when I take on the Ultra Marathon.
And the great news is…. we are now up and running. I will be very grateful for anything you can give, but, more importantly, so will the people behind Tiegan’s Star and eventually, the families that your money will help.
Donate here: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/ayearfortiegan
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Juggling 3 sports is hard… now add a 4th… http://tiegansstar.com/2015/05/19/juggling-3-sports-is-hard-now-add-a-4th/ Tue, 19 May 2015 09:04:42 +0000 http://tiegansstar.com/?p=198 Aaaaand relax.

I wish.

With Prague done and a long break until the end of June, the ultra-marathon, you would think it would give me a couple of weeks before heading back into the realms of heavy training – unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Having spent months improving my swimming and running a lot, it was now time to find my cycling legs.

The first week after Prague was pretty relaxed, I had a few catch ups which I had put off until after Prague and that allowed me to chill out more. The second week was not, it was my busiest yet.

Sunday morning, after a dominating win the day before at cricket in the first league game of the year, was spent out on the bike. Targeting 60km but with no route in mind, I went out and cycled until I thought I should make my way home. 54km and then a quick shower and off to another cricket game – this time in the Village Cup. Another win – 2 from 2, good start to the season.

Then brought an intense week of after/pre-work training. Monday – 2500m of swimming interval training. I did my usual class and then joined in with the class after with the really quick guys. It was tough, but I got through my targeting 50% of that.

Tuesday – cricket training followed my a leg session at the gym. Legs were still a bit tender from Sunday but they still worked – just about.

Wednesday was another evening at the gym, this time on the WattBike. This will always be a short but more intense session, I eased my way into it though doing a 4 minute normal cycle pace follows by 1 minute sprinting (5 times).  That 4 minute will drop in time as training goes on and more intervals will be achieved.

Thursday morning I ran through the woods to the next train station along. This is part of my conditioning for the Ultra Marathon. Getting my body used to the non flat ground, the hills etc. Leaving the house at 5.30 wasn’t the best, but the run itself was good which is the important part.

Friday – another bike related evening, this time in the garage. Set up on my turbo trainer, I had a look around the new Zwift Island. Zwift is basically an online system that as you cycle, shows you going around an island against other riders. Fantastic to keep you occupied when you are effectively staring at a wall for 30 minutes! I’ll go into more detail about this brilliant invention in another blog. (Such a tease…)

Back to another weekend, and after last weeks Village Cup triumph I had two games of cricket again. Saturday morning again involved the joyous 6.20 alarm and off to the lake swim at Box End. Probably my best swim yet too, which is always positive. 2500m in 53minutes. Not world record pace, or even that quick for an ironman athlete, but for me – that is quick!

Sunday morning was always going to be a morning off with a big game on Sunday afternoon – Shenley Village are 3 divisions above us so I didn’t want to be tired going into it – but we emerged the weekend with 2 convincing victories and on to another village cup game in two weeks time, against another team 3 divisions above us.

There were downfalls though to a successful weekend… Fielding the ball on Saturday and I jarred my back. As I write this on Tuesday morning, it’s still not well. Monday nights swim session has been missed, and tonights gym is also off the cards. With a leaving do on Thursday it is looking likely that this weeks training is going to be an almighty fail after last weeks busy schedule.

If it is fixed for the weekend, then 100km on the bike and 20km in the trails is the target, and then I won’t feel as bad about missing the mid week training.

Maybe I can’t do 4 sports at once…

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Maraton Praha complete. 2 to go! http://tiegansstar.com/2015/05/06/maraton-praha-complete-2-to-go/ Wed, 06 May 2015 13:18:05 +0000 http://tiegansstar.com/?p=188

Aaaaand breathe. That was tough. Cobbles, PB, target achieved, resisting the cheap Czech beer – great weekend away.

It is the end of an odd part of the year – having events so close to each other was difficult to work out what to do between them – looking from the Brighton Marathon, I needed to recover, ease my way back into training – however at the other end, the Prague Marathon, I needed to taper my training – lowering what I did. Whatever I did, it appears to have worked. I took over 5 minutes off my Brighton time when I completed Prague this weekend – setting myself a new PB and achieving the marathon target I set myself at the end of last year of a sub-3.15 marathon. 3 hours 14 minutes & 17 seconds.

Having spent the weeks before Prague fitting in small runs and cycles, I flew to Prague not too confident of improving my time from Brighton. I thought that I hadn’t done enough over the 3 weeks & that the cobbles may cause me too many problems with my history of ankle & knees injuries. The alarm went off beautifully early on Saturday morning to fly out, 4.30 we were out of the door and on our way to Stansted, arriving in Prague at 10.30 local time, where (thankfully) there was a lovely English speaking lady to sell public transport tickets & draw the route I required to take to get to the expo to get my number & goodies. The expo had a lot of stalls in, but with this being my third expo in as many weeks, nothing really interested me as I had already spent all my money. Our hotel was right near the centre of Prague, fantastically placed for the Marathon, all transport links & seeing Prague. We checked in and then chilled. I sorted my race number & clothes before heading into the Old Town square to meet Alex and Tui, who had been given the local tour by Tui’s Uncle who has lived there for 25ish years. I tried to calm Alex’s nerves, but I don’t think I was successful. One thing I do have going for me, is I don’t get nervous – downside is that I don’t really know how to deal with other peoples nerves well – sorry Alex!!

On to the race. 10,000 of us gathered around the Old Town Square on Sunday morning, waiting for 9am to come and for the pro’s to sprint off at their ridiculous pace. The first kilometre was difficult to get going as the streets were pretty narrow and there were a large amount of people trying to get their rhythm. Once we crossed the river for the first time, it was time for the most important part of the race – toilet break. The first bit of green since the start appeared at exactly 1km and hundreds of men (and a few women) dashed into the grass to relieve themselves. From there, not only did I feel more comfortable, I had more space to settle in at a comfortable pace. The first 5km went quite slowly in my head, which initially was a worry as this part of the race normally flies by. Maybe it was something to do with passing by the 33km sign and thinking about how far there was to go. But after then, I found myself over half way without having counted many of the other significant distances and only the cobbles causing me a bit of discomfort Halfway was reached at 1.33.15 – almost 2 minutes ahead of where I had planned to be – I felt pretty good. I reached 26km without much trouble, but it was then that I started to feel it. My hamstrings, the guys who gave in first at Brighton, were starting to feel tighter and I had to plan what I did with my pace. I slowed myself down ever so slightly to try and let them settle. It worked perfectly. One issue with running a race that doesn’t have many English people in is that you don’t distract yourself much, meaning your brain settles in on other things. Luckily for me, this is where I saw Alex. Approx. 1km in front of me on one of the out and back areas. This took my mind off of the hamstring, and I forgot about it – for the rest of the race. The rest of the race was time management. I thought that Chloe & Tui would have set themselves up at aound 32km – so that was my next part. Get to them and then there’s 10km to go. I got there and I knew 3.15 was on. I looked at my time and knew that as long as I didn’t have a dramatic crash of energy I was going to complete the final 10km in less than 50minutes. I knew it would be tight, but I felt good.

Arrive the finish line, I looked at my watch (which was reading that I had already completed a marathon…) and I was almost there. I could see the finish line, but it wasn’t until I was about 50 metres away that I had the confirmation that I had hit my target. Easily too.

I enjoyed the race a lot – it says something about how good a race was if you can’t remember much of it – it means that you are focused for one. Loss of focus is never a good sign for me as I then settle in at a slower pace naturally and everything goes to pot. The cobbles were bad – but that is part of the charm of the Prague marathon – running through the old & the new parts of the city. The crowds need some work! Where there was crowd, there wasn’t much noise. Now I don’t know if that’s because I’ve been blessed to have run the well supported events of Paris & Brighton, but the crowd give you energy and they need to work on that in Czech Republic! Maybe they were feeling their 9am beers.

I now have 7 weeks until the next event – one that I am completely unsure about. Ultimate Trails – this won’t be one that I shall be sprinting around. I have 12 hours to complete it and if it takes me that long then I have no issue. This is one about completing it, not about a time. Over the next 7 weeks my training will change dramatically, focus will switch to cycling more than anything else with any running sessions being through woods or up and down hills. Ideally, I would only be training for the Ultra, but I haven’t given myself that privilege so I have to sacrifice the time to make sure I split it so I can complete the Ultra and hit my target time for the Ironman. Whilst playing cricket every week. Free time = zero.

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Week Of Recovery http://tiegansstar.com/2015/04/20/week-of-recovery/ Mon, 20 Apr 2015 11:14:58 +0000 http://tiegansstar.com/?p=168

Monday was painful. I hadn’t slept much, every movement during the night caused me to wake up due to the pain. My legs were not happy with me and they were making sure that I was fully aware with that fact. I knew I had to keep moving; if I had spent the day in bed it would have taken longer to recover.

I got myself out of bed and into the garage. This isn’t as strange as it sounds, in the garage is my turbo trainer with my second bike sitting on it. I had a 15 minute very light spin, trying to get the blood flowing around my legs. It wasn’t pleasant or quick, but it was useful. The bath that followed had the same target – that was more enjoyable than the cycle. The rest of the day was spent with my mate Chris, wandering around, purchasing and installing various things for his new flat. I hope I didn’t hold him up too much with my slow walking – he didn’t moan too much. In the evening was my normal swim class. Luckily, the class planned didn’t have a huge amount of kicking involved, otherwise I would have been sinking to the bottom of the pool! 50 odd lengths later and I was feeling a bit better and got myself home and to bed. I slept better and was now feeling okay when walking on flat surfaces. Stairs, however, were like climbing up and down Mount Everest. Agony!  Tuesday was a bed day. Awful TV shows and films for 80% of the day, with stretching and foam rolling in between! I know how to live….

I gave myself Wednesday and Thursday off, with just stretching involved. Your body needs time to heal and I had to make sure I gave it the time, given such a short space before the next marathon. On Friday I got myself back in the garage onto the Turbo Trainer. A couple of laps of Zwift Island had me panting a bit. Zwift is this new game where it takes all of your readings from your various bike sensors and puts you up against other cyclists around the world that are doing the same. It is quite something – any cyclist who enjoys an indoor session but needs better entertainment – look no further – Nothing like a competition to be entertained.

The weekend was triathlon filled – in the wrong order and in small doses, but still, triathlon filled. The alarm rang at 6.20 on Saturday morning, never pleasant. I got up, grabbed myself an orange and head up to Box End for my first open water session of the year. As I arrived, the lake looked beautiful and the water was at a (for this time of year) huge 13 degrees! Two laps of the lake went rather quickly, I had hoped for three but a bit of chafing on my neck started and I did not feel like having a wet suit love bit after my first date of the year. Each lap equates to approximately 800m, so I was happy to go around them in 16 and a half minutes average – there’s a long time to reduce that time. This was the first time I tried my fancy GPS watch out in open water swimming, and it was amusing when I got out the water. Firstly, I knew it would say more than 1600m as I definitely do not swim in a straight line, but to say 2000m was funny to see. I did not swim that much out of the way, or did I swim that quick!! On analysis, there was a section where it obviously struggled for signal and then randomly threw me 100m out of the water and back in. I like to think I’m a talented guy, but swimming through land is not something I can do – not even Jesus could do that. Maybe that was one of Chuck Norris’ various skills.

I got back and tried out my new trail shoes – I wanted to run 10km through the woods, but my legs just weren’t there yet. I really struggled and it wasn’t really until the last kilometre on the way home that I started feeling normal – running legs officially left in Brighton! Home and a shower & lunch later and I set myself of the task of taking apart and cleaning my best bike, Bonnie, ready for the cycle on Sunday. Yes, she has a name. Yes, she’s a she.

There was a small matter of a trip to Wembley to watch Arsenal dominate (struggle against) Reading and make their way into the FA Cup Final. It was a very Arsenal performance in that at times, we looked fantastic, and at times we passed the ball to the Reading attackers and stepped out of the way to let them through.

Sunday morning meant time to get out on the road with Bonnie. I planned a 50km route out, got myself some breakfast and spent 25 minutes looking for my kit. I found it all except for one glove, which took an extra 10 minutes – always the way. The route was rather simple, or it should have been but I convinced myself I had gone wrong at one point so turned back and found myself randomly cycling looking at road signs and following them. When I found out where I was, I had to invent a new route that would take me to the 50km point – I got around 46km in the end, so I wasn’t far off. It was good to get out on the bike, I didn’t feel too bad but there is a lot of improving to do. I averaged 27km/h for the ride, I will be targeting 29km/h during the Ironman. Unfortunately, Hertfordshire is a difficult place to cycle around. I wouldn’t call Hertfordshire hilly, as that description belongs to places like Yorkshire and such, but it definitely is not flat. We’ll go with undulating. It’s difficult to get any rhythm when you’re cycling as you don’t go very far until the road changes gradient – and even then the hills aren’t long enough to get into a proper rhythm! It’s annoying, but I’ll get over it.

I’m now two weeks away from the Prague marathon, effectively into tapering mode again. I need to keep myself busy enough whilst not overexerting – it’s a strange part of the training as you want to start back training after one event but can’t because the next event is so close. I shall be at the London Marathon next weekend as a supporter of various friends, but mainly for Chloe, who after six years of balloting finally got her place. Good luck to all involved, and just remember that every step takes you closer to the finish.

Sunrise at the Lakes.

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Brighton – Complete. 3 events to go! http://tiegansstar.com/2015/04/14/brighton-complete-3-events-to-go/ Tue, 14 Apr 2015 08:44:27 +0000 http://tiegansstar.com/?p=119

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This post took me a couple of attempts to get finished. Not really due to not knowing what to write, but due to not being able to sit down for too long before my legs go dead. I am definitely suffering after the Brighton Marathon, but it’s definitely worth it.

I had a 14km run last Sunday, which I was meant to take easy but my legs felt heavy, so I tried to push through that to get them loose. It worked, and I had a surprisingly quick training run to lead me into the final week, which was planned to be low key.

Monday was swimming day, a good session on Bank Holiday Monday, smaller attendance always means more lengths to do! Tuesday was a light spin on the turbo trainer in the garage, nothing too extreme just keeping the legs alive. Wednesday was a glorious rest day followed by a small run from work to Finsbury Park – my final run before the Brighton Marathon.

The weekend turned up! Woke up Saturday morning, packed my stuff (about 3 times, I have a habit of forgettings things) and got the train down to Brighton. The train journey was an interesting mixture of people travelling to Gatwick to go on holiday, people travelling from Gatwick after being on holiday, marathon runners, people heading down to enjoy a sunny weekend on the beach and people heading down for a few nights out on the town. The variation in conversations was good to eavesdrop.

Once we arrived, we headed for some lunch (pasta, obviously) and checked in at our Airbnb place. The place I had booked was 20 minute walk from the start line, perfect distance to get the legs warm enough. The main issue was I had forgotten that the marathon finished on the sea front and Brighton is situated on a mountain if you’re trying to get back up from the beach, but that was going to be Sunday afternoons problem! The Expo was interesting, I had been to Paris the year before which was ridiculously big, I got lost 3 times. This one was much smaller and selective.  I picked up my number and then took a wander around. I heard a sales pitch from the guy at the Osmo stall, a nutrition type I had looked into before (it was a successful pitch, I ordered some stuff last night!) and there was also a health check going on. 10.9% body fat with 61.5% hydration (target 55-65%). Bang on! We had a guess at the amount of apples in a box, Chloe guessed at 596 & the answer is 594, we are waiting to hear if she won.

A mandatory trip to Brighton pier to win some tickets followed before back up to the top of the mountain for dinner and relaxation.

Now onto the race. Sunday morning came and the 6.30 alarm went off. Breakfast is the same thing before every race – porridge with raisins, croissant & a banana for the walk to the race. I got into my race pen very early, there was an opportunity to be right at the front for the start – which I completely bottled. I would probably trip over and get stampeded or something! The buzzer went and I set off. I started reasonably quick, but I wanted to get off into some space and settle into a zone. I past the 3.15 pacer & set myself into a steady rhythm. My target average split was 4.37/km and I wanted to settle in at that after I had some space – this unfortunately didn’t happen. I got caught up with the pace I was running and put a bit too much in early doors. The first 10km had flown by – 44.36 minutes – and this is when I found a running friend (Nick) to run with – he was suffering with the same problem as me – he was targeting 3.15 and had set off too quick. We settled into a rhythm together, slowing our splits down bit my bit, crossing the half way point in 1.34.37. It wasn’t far after this that I started feeling it. I had had one gel, and we had our 3rd out and back section. I didn’t feel awful, I just noticed that my comfortable pace was dropping – and I let it. I knew I had gone off too quick and that I needed to manage myself through the second half. We reached 30km (still with Nick) at 2.16.48. Still nicely ahead of the pace.

This is where I think Brighton need to rethink their course. The final out and back is around a power station, on what on a map appears to be an island. Not many supporters venture out there and the road surface is awful. Just when you enter your final 6 miles and you need the help, you find yourself running on broken tarmac with a handful of supporters cheering for you, instead of thousands. I hit the wall massively. I lost Nick just before this, I found some new energy that I would guess was the last bit of proper life in my legs leaving my body as the next 9km was hell! At 22 miles, the 3.15 pacers overtook me. I tried to push with them, but my hamstrings were starting to feel it and I had to make the decision to complete the race with a good time, instead of pushing myself to failure. The final 4 miles were pretty horrible, running very slowly in comparison to what I am used to. And then I came back into the crowds. And then I saw the finish line. 300m to go. I looked at my watch and saw that I could sneak under 3 hours 20 still. One last push. Stride increased, and with 75m to go, I felt the cramp. Both hamstrings. There will be some classic photos towards the end of a man in multi coloured gear running with two straight legs near the finish. I didn’t care, I made it.

3 hours 19 minutes & 50 seconds. Not sure why I sprinted, I had 9 seconds to spare… Ranked 476 out of the 9400 people who started. I will take that.

A note on my attire: wearing brightly coloured clothing 100% gets you more attention for the cameras and the cheers. Having your name on your top is the best thing ever also, thousands of people (I now refer to them as my fans), cheering you on by name. Definitely helps. So thanks for my thousands of fans in Brighton for cheering me on!

On to the next one. 19 days until Prague Marathon!

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