Thursday, 22 September 2011

End of season looming...

My foray into bike racing is slowly proving a success!

With one Cat 3/4 and two Cat 4 races under the bib shorts, I've amassed a huge 8pts. 2 short of the 10 I need.

Unfortunately, I'm blaming not moving up a Cat (...yet) on Conan the Barbarian and my deteriorating memory/brain. If I could poke it with a stick, I would. God only knows I've tried...well, unintentionally with a cotton bud. Kinda hurt.

It was back in the days when my mother would plant me in front of the TV as a child for a moments peace. I somehow found Conan the Barbarian (huge Arnie fan) whilst flicking through the 4 channels. The scene depicted what looked like green slime being poured down someone's ear, presumably for torture. Anyway...whilst in the shower with my ridiculous imagination, I was playing around with the old mint, green shampoo we had. That's right, same colour as the slime. my ear. I survived, but I imagine that there's some form of long term damage that would ultimately come back and haunt me; and it did, in Crit racing and my inability to remember anything relatively important.

Anyway, the relevance of all this shit chat above is, I forgot to send a license away that would have enabled me to collect the points from last week where I finished 3rd...and could've collected 6pts. As I left it so late (intended to do it in July...muh'), I missed out on the points so have one round of points from 3 races.

Fast forward to last night, I finished inches. There must've been roughly a foot between 1st, 2nd and 3rd. I was awarded "The Most Aggressive Rider" during the race and given a free Power Testing session at Pro Motion Dynamics in Cardiff. Cheers for that guys!

I spent most of my time near the front and often caught myself leading, unintentionally. For the first few laps I was trying to get away...if I'm gonna drive the ~50 miles to Cardiff, I'm going to make the most of the race and attack. It was nigh on impossible to get off, despite efforts (inc a couple Cardiff Ajax riders) and a couple others; there was simply too much headwind on one section of the track.

With the race nearing the 30mins, I was taking it easy on the front and no-one would come through...a controlled pace and everyone seemed to sit behind. Then, when the counter hits 10 laps to go, the pace increased.

2 laps left and two guys went for it...they got a decent gap in but faded towards the final 1/2 lap...the bunch caught up and I decided to go for it before the two were back in the group. Fortunately, I was behind some guy built like a sail and got a free ride until he clipped the wheel of the guy next to him (no-one to blame, just racing...) and stacked it. Big time! He was ok bar some serious skin rash and some nasty looking cuts to his face/head.

Anyway, with two guys approaching the line I started picking up some time on them before squeezing through in between for 2nd place. So that's a 3rd and 2nd in two races...

One last race to get 2 points. Can't wait till Monday....!

Photos to follow (providing I can steal them from Cardiff Jiff).

In the mean time, here's some random photos I've taken in the last few weeks.


79.3 Km/ph...


There she is...


Thursday, 4 August 2011

Cycling too much. My arse hurts...

So yah...this year has been written off through injury.

Summed up with the fact I still can't run, I can cycle and have done lots and I can still swim...although I've not been in a pool for nearly two months.

I've started and finished one Criterium race which too my delight, was shortened. On first impressions, I though:

"Shortened Crit = less time to suffer"

When in fact, it's shortened, so everyone goes that little bit faster.

The usual setup of a Crit goes a lil' something like this.

You get yourself a closed circuit (in Pembreys case, a racing circuit). You then add some riders, in this case, 45 of us. The abilities range from 4th Cat* racers; Me or newbie's and 3rd Cat* racers; people who've accumulated enough point to move up from 4th Cat.

* You gain points from finishing in the top 10 of the field and the points are distributed through the first finishers. Not sure how many points, but that's how it rolls. When you gain enough points in one season, you move up into the next Cat. It goes; 4th Cat -> 3rd Cat -> 2nd Cat -> 1st Cat -> Elite.

The format I raced was "supposed" to be 1hr + 1 lap. Instead, due to delays, it changed to 45mins + 1 lap.

So they gunned it from the off. I just wanted to finish in the main pack and not get dropped. Anyhow, after averaging ~30mph for 45mins I was pleased to finish in the main bunch. A tough workout, but good fun. I haven't done one since for various reason...I say various, I've been lazy.

I've also done the Merlin ride. A 75 mile Sportif in Carmarthenshire. Good fun and takes in all my training routes. I missed the start as I was by the car taking a piss, then caught a big group after ~15 miles after going through all the back markers. The thing with Sportifs' is, it's not a race, although I like using them as a hard training session. I like the feel of them and you do get the odd group who take them faaar too seriously, but it's all good. Anyway, I got bored of riding in the group for ~10 miles and decided to have a go on my own and see who'd follow. Turns Loved the local climbs and just got quicker through he day...finished with the 4th quickest time...but it's not a race. Loved it.

The other "race" I had to look forward to was a MTB Enduro in Afan Argoed. The 100k jobbie...yeah, well...that got cancelled due to some "made up" disease: The Sudden Death Oak Disease. Awesome.

So I'm off to Lanzarote in a couple weeks. I'll rent a bike for a few days and cycle into the wind and see what the crack is with this Femes' climb.

Another ride I've decided to do myself which I took an idea from Paris-Roubaix, is Caernarfon-Carmarthen. The only way it resembles Paris-Roubaix is by finishing on an out-door Velodrome...there're no cobbles that I know of. Unless I go over the 2.5m strip of cobbles in Carmarthen...24,000 times.

The ride will be roughly 220km and I'll be doing this route:

I'll be starting at Caernarfon Castle then heading along the coast to Porthmadog, I'll try keep the route as coastal as possible...since it's bloody lyvly...and Blaenau Ffestiniog looks like something from Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings. Then, I'll use my climbing legs to get through the Snowdonia National Park...again, bloody lyvly. From Dolgellau, where I'd more than likely stop for some water/snack, I'll head off to Aberystwyth where I'll quickly pass through and avoid the temptation to spend three nights in the Hen Llew Ddu; where incidentally, Jesus works behind the bar. Well, I say Jesus, he's re-named himself Iestyn. Then forth towards Aberaeron to see the sea and onto the final stretch home -> Carmarthen Velodrome. The oldest active concrete Velodrome in the World. IN YOUR FACE, PARIS-ROUBAIX. You can stuff your cobbles up your lycra padded shorts.

This is actually Carmarthen Velodrome...last week.

In total, the ride will involve nigh on 3,000m of climbing (if can be trusted). I'll wait for some decent weather and a 50mph tailwind, then I'll jump on the train and head North...with my newly injected vaccinations and a fistful of energy bars.

What's that? Target time I hear you say?

Well...137.5 miles at an average of 16mph will give me 8hrs 30mins. Just over 18mph will be 7hrs somehwere around there. I think. Vague? yes. Have I got any idea? No.

Abergorlech - Red Run

Abergorlech - Finish

Monday, 9 May 2011

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Well, it's been a taxing few weeks. I've withdrawn from all races I've penned in this year; these include: Ironman Austria, Ironman Wales (technically didn't enter, but meh'), The Beaver Middle Distance, Bleanavon Triathlon, European Triathlon Championships in Spain, European Cross Triathlon Championships in Hungary and a couple local running events. Gutted.

I hold the sole blame on Ironman and the associated training (and my girly core strength, weak arse and tight hamstrings).

I've decided I won't be doing an Ironman for at least a couple years, or until I get physically stronger and balder. May do one before I'm 30...or 50.

A plus from this dark time (not really...the clocks have done forward) have been a week in Majorca with a group of lovely people from England. Proper English Leicester/Loughborough England. You' know, pretend toffs.

My week changed focus before going out. It was mainly a cycling camp for me with some swimming thrown in to ease off the abused saddle area (the bit between your balls and bung hole).

I had no targets in mind (mileage wise) but wanted to cycle everyday. I bought a speedometer before going to log these miles, unfortunately, I forgot to take the magnet; a vital tool to clocking mileage/speed. Without this...I may have well guessed the miles. My guess is roughly thousands, hundreds of thousands maybe (It was actually somewhere around the 350-400 mark)?

Majorca is stunning for cycling, providing you like mountains and Germans. Mountains such as Sa Colobra, Lluc, Puig Major, Soller and The Orient (not the football team) were stunning. I liked Lluc the get thrown out of the hairpins and for a second, you accelerate up hill? No idea...

I think it must the child in me (not literally), but I just enjoyed going up the hill pretending to race? I enjoyed toying with a group of Cardiff Ajax riders. One chap stuck to my wheel for the first couple Km's of the climb then put the gas on to put a gap on me...unfortunately, I didn't have to do much as he kinda went past and blew up? It was a shame as he started going backwards soon after that...even though, I put a little squirt (I'd say boot, but it wasn't that much of a change in speed) on and distanced him for the remainder of the climb. Winner (it wasn't a race...just in my head...I even gave it the "Shooter McGavin" when reaching the top....I know, cool as shit).

The first couple days I didn't really set into my "groove". I'd push too hard on the climbs, then go KABOOOM on the flats on the way home. Two days I got dropped...I even got pushed back into the group by Dave Collins (top 10/15 ranked UK MTB'er apparently?) only to be dropped out the back when he looked away for a split second.

Another error I managed was;

Day 1: HR monitor but no HR strap.
Day 2: HR strap but no HR monitor? (you're impressed, right?)
Day 3: Forgot to start my HR monitor.
Day 4: Boom. Nailed it. (I'm doing the "Shooter McGavin right now)

I'll describe some of the guys on the camp for you (apologies in advance to those who are reading about yourselves):

Richard Jeggo. Lovely chap, completely hairless, fast on the flats, goes backwards on the climbs, swims quickly due to being completely hairless, well groomed, runs very quickly due to being completely hairless, loves speedos, drinks wine, eats porridge and completely hairless. Top bloke, him.

Duncan SS. He's not a Nazi despite the abbreviated surname. Cycles very quickly, runs very quickly, eats fat and weighs nothing, has a tremendous amount of veins...imagine gluing 25 meters worth of green hosepipe to your arms and legs and you get the idea, doing the Norseman Triathlon (I wouldn't even google it, let alone enter) and looks like a handsome version of Peter Ebdon.

Claire SS. She is actually a Nazi. Super organised, cycles far and again, fast, runs quickly, weighs nothing and eats fat (you've probably guessed that she's married to Peter Ebd...Duncan by now, if not, you're an idiot), swims fast and is clearly aroused by veins.

Andy Foster. If you can imagine person with the attributes of Side-show Bob and Patrick Swayze from Point Break...then that's him. He used to do triathlon in speedos and vests. Old school mother fuc...Also enjoys candy penis.

Janette Foster. Talks about poo. A lot.

David Beale. Really nice guy, but I imagine he can't make it through the day without wanting a cuddle. He cycles like a train on the flat, tanks it downhill and does pretty well going up (providing there's a cafe at the top of the climb). He's very patriotic and sat on the Queens face.

Rebecca Sore. Davids other tiny half. She's very small. I'm not sure what height actually qualifies you as a dwarf/midget, but she can't be far off...she has an Ironman tattoo on her calf and smiles. A lot.

Dave & Sara Collins. They ride very fast. Especially David, who turns out to be in the top 10/15 in the UK at mountain biking despite being bald. Nice guys.

Martin Burder. Jesus fuc....Christ. As I've said before, he became my own John Candy (think Trains, Planes and Automobiles). He's a logistical nightmare and I was tempted to hack him into tiny pieces and stuff him in his bike bag. I got lumped with him for the majority of the last day. Next time, I'll lock my room and ignore him. HOW he cycled around the World, I'll never guess. I imagine he only popped out to get milk, then return 18 months later after 24,000 miles of cycling...without the milk.

Anyway, a great week away with some interesting/fun/hairless/Martin Burder people. Thanks for the invite guys!!

I think Martin got home? Last I sae of him, he was cycling to the airport...

Anyway, I've forgotten about what I'm talking about. Err, I think I'm gonna do John O'Groats to Lands End before August since I still can't run.

Oh, and I did a time trial the other day. Despite tasting blood and coughing for a good two hours after the 25 minutes 12 seconds (10 miles), I think...I enjoyed it? Will persevere, although being between by a teenager on a road bike with clip on bars was nearly enough. Not to mention being caught by a guy starting a minute behind me after 5 miles....turns out he's pretty good though. Meh'

That's about it?

Monday, 4 April 2011

No sooner as 2011 kicks off and with a load of winter training under my comes to a screeching halt. Twice. My swimming and cycling has progressed since last year; let's face it, the only way my swimming could get worse was if I decided to swim breastroke...with weights on my a diving suit...full of piss. You get the jyst.
My cycling, thanks to hours on the turbo trainer (indoor trainer to you non triathletes), has improved considerably. The previous winter was spent on the roads in pitch black on my MTB, which was great, if not a little wet, cold, windy. But this year, the sweat fest that is the turbo. I feel faster, I look thinner and still very pale. Nigh on translucent.

I've also changed my saddle on the Time Trial bike to the Adamo - it looks painful and for a week of so, it was. But with some perseverance I can sit on the tip of this saddle without loosing feeling in my chappy. He's happy, I'm happy...everyone is happy...including Trybikestore who made £120 off me. They're defo happy.

Back to the screeching halt: it's my left knee. I've been diagnosed with ITBS (which sounds like some kinda' loose bowel issue...but nope), and recently had a steroid injection to see if that has any effect on the area. I haven't tried running since, but swam and cycled. I'll give 2~3 weeks off running.

This Ironman lark is slowly taking it's toll. Jeggo has had to pull out due to a foot injury and I'm on the verge of getting into last minute territory* in terms of getting "run fit". I've got 14 weeks to get through including a week in Mallorca on the bike, a Half Ironman and a tough Olympic distance event in Pontypool. I've already withdrawn from a half marathon and a duathlon this year. Blow.

*Since this blog has taken me the best part of 2 weeks to write...I've changed my mind about Ironman Austria and literally, just signed the withdrawal application. With no running over 30mins since mid February and possibly another 2~4 week layoff; that'll give me 12-10 weeks for Austria to get run fit without even factoring in a decent taper. So, after discussing it with the coach, I'm pulling out and shifting the focus onto something else. I'll enter this week at some point.

In other news: On the back of last year’s results, I've got a sponsor. A triathlon store in Pembroke called Triexercise. In my desperation for sponsorship last year, I sent a load of emails out to provoke some form of reaction and it worked...although Darren from Triexercise took the best part of 5 months to realise that the "reply" button actually worked (well, that and the fact that they were in the process of moving the store...).

So, with the backing from Triexercise, it allows me to free up some funds to race abroad again this year. Something I want to do every year; even if it is one race. I did fancy doing the European Cross Triathlon Championships in Visegrad, Hungary (40k north of Budapest), but it fell on the same weekend as Ironman Austria. So, with the weekend free, I'll more than likely enter that and get to race under the GB Age-Group squad again...providing; a) my mtb still works from Nepal b) my knee works c) Visegrad doesn't resemble something out of a Eastern European snuff movie.

Anyhow, I'm back into the strength and conditioning phase and hopefully on the road to getting this knee fixed. Patience is key.

I'll just copy & paste this chat I had with Lowri in work as its pretty light hearted and made me laugh...although it makes more sense if you read from the bottom up.

From: John B Williams To: Lowri J Jones Subject: RE: Hiya!!! x Good chat. I like this. x

From: Lowri J Jones To: John B Williams Subject: RE: Hiya!!! x I just giggled loads!!!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love it!! x

From: John B Williams To: Lowri J Jones Subject: RE: Hiya!!! x It's more of a "Hi, I'm a zebra in a fancy dress costume and I've come as a horse, but ran out of 'scuse the legs". X

From: Lowri J Jones To: John B Williams Subject: Hiya!!! x

From: John B Williams To: Lowri J Jones Subject: RE: Bored. I type random letters into Word, then correct them with the spell checker to something I've never heard of and press the "look up" button. Great way to kill 30mins. Although they've kinda' dropped the ball on the "Okapis" chap. x

From: Lowri J Jones To: John B Williams Subject: RE: LMAO!!!!!! How did you find that out?!?!!? xx

From: John B Williams To: Lowri J Jones Subject: RE: Ah bless. I've eaten quite a bit so I'm due a nap. Bear with me; according to Microsoft Word, an Okapis is an African animal resembling a giraffe. Although it has a short neck. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but that doesn't resemble a giraffe then?! X

From: Lowri J Jones To: John B Williams Subject: RE: I’m starting to flag now!!! I think the busy day and swimming last night are catching up wit me!!! x

On last thing; A photo of a friends dog.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

12th Blog Post...the never ending story. ends at the end. Weirdly.

"Ave...take a photo of me taking a photo of you" - He's a teacher. Frightening.

So, continuing on from the last entry where I left you in Spain after the calamitous ETU Long Distance Champs, I now bring you back down to sunny West Wales.

PEMBROKESHIRE COAST TRIATHLON - Welsh Olympic Distance Championships

The Pembrokeshire Coast Triathlon has become one of my favourite races over the last couple years. That and the Vitruvian. It's a very tough Olympic distance course set in stunning Broad Haven (couple pubs right on the beach...amazing for spectators, Stuart and his dog, Maximus Maximus (so good, he named him twice)).

It was held as part of the Welsh Olympic Distance Championships and included a very strong field. And a man dressed as Batman.

Starting off with a 1,500m sea swim which was all the more interesting with the strong winds and a colleagues' story ringing in the back of my head -> basically, he and a group of mates went snorkelling off the coast last year, when jumping off the boat, his mate was instantly shocked to see a Basking shark in front of him. Due to this shock, he lost all his hair and eyebrows over the next couple weeks. Personally, I would have probably died on the spot.

Anyhow, after negotiating the waves and difficult sighting, I was out of the water and I had some time to make up. All last season my swimming struggled and I shouldn't be surprised as I was probably going through the motions training wise. Looking back at my times, I'm reasonably happy with it (compared to what happened in Bala) - 25:09, but still not where I want to be (6mins down on the leading lot already).

So, decided to go as hard as I could manage on the bike knowing that I had a tough 10k to finish. Last year, I did the bike with a capped HR in mind...from that, I learnt I can race Oly's on feel and hit the bike hard. It's a hilly course on the back roads of Broad Haven, so it's not a race for PB's. In 2009 I managed a 1:23:01, 12 months on, I knocked off a 1:19:30 and could have gone a bit faster if I hadn't been stuck in traffic, I say traffic, I mean the 90yr old couple who blatantly drove past the waving marshall before stopping in the middle of the road to reverse for the sake of reversing on the sea front.

I also got in front of local Vet Chris Morris for the first time in my racing "career". I was passing a couple athletes, and upon noticing it was him, a mirror image of "what the f*ck are you doing here?" was mouthed.

Out on the run, I just wanted to stay ahead of him. Looking back, I could see that he stayed the same distance for the first 5k then I pushed on the hills trying to put some time between us. It probably stayed the same and it hurt.

Note - although stunning to look at, the coastal track hurts...and the steps don't do any favours to the quads.

Anyhow, crossing the line on the beach front was great. Great support along with Welsh cakes and tea. I finished 13th overall and 9th in the Welsh Championships. Very happy considering it was a week after the rubbish result out in Spain.

AFAN OFF-ROAD TRIATHLON - Welsh Off-Road Triathlon Championships

Next up was a spurr of the moment entry. Looking for one last race before Bala, I found that the Welsh Off-Road Triathlon Champs were being held down the road in Afan. Some seriously great trails! Knowing that I was riding well and my run was coming together, I gave it a shot.

A 600m pool swim was again, rubbish. Followed by the 500-600m run downhill into T1 to grab the MTB. Plan was to hammer it and smash myself on the 6km off road run. Knowing that Chris Morris was there again with some familiar faces from Cardiff tri along with Ryan Evans (Xterra Athlete) and British Duathlete, (looking at his results, bike/run monster) Jez Cox, I thought I may be able to get my first top 10 and at a push, maybe nudge the top 5. The bike was going well, catching people in the earlier wave on the inclines and my downhill skills were paying off too...that was until I noticed that my rear wheel was giving off some lateral movement...? Stopped, hopped off and tightened the quick release skewer...still moving. With very basic mechanical skills, I decided to plough on.

Coming to the end of the ride, there was one short, sharp incline to get over and whilst changing down the gears, the chain jammed. Again, stopped, hopped off and had to change gear by hand. Turns out I hadn't serviced the MTB since Nepal and the hammering had taken it's toll. Once on the flat section, I left it in gear and pedalled (cycled, not push drugs) my balls off.

Annoyed with myself I decided to run as hard as I could for the 6km. I loved the route! Pathways, river, steep climb and a trail to get over. Twice, being a two lap run. I caught a few people and wasn't passed, so figured I had a good run. As I was coming into the finishing 500m, I saw the remainder of the field going out. Crossing the line, I had no idea of my finishing time/position.

Stayed for the awards ceremony with Chris Morris to see him collect 3rd Vet. Saw 3rd place in the Open Male go up (Cardiff Tri) and thought I missed out on the top 3 for sure. 2nd place was Ryan Evans and WTF! Very surprised and without doubt my best race result in Triathlon.

Shame about the shorts/trainer combo. But hey, Welsh Off-Road Triathlete 2010. Boosh.

BALA TRIATHLON - British Age-Group Qualifying Race (European Championships)

Arguably one of the strongest fields in Olympic distance racing in the UK adding in a GB Age-Group Qualifying race, this was a big race. I decided to put my name down for a shot-at-a-slot (err...I've turned into Bruce Forsythe) to see how far off I'd be for the time needed. I was aiming at a sub 2:10 race and ideally, somewhere around the 2:08 mark.

Unfortunately, I didn't get the target and managed a 2:12. A bad swim, disappointing bike and a decent run pretty much paid price to the final target.
My swim was it has been all year. And the waiting around for 5-10mins in the lake before starting (although fine during the swim) meant that I was about to cramp up badly on the bike. I've never suffered with it before, and hurt. As I got out on the bike (after my nigh on 28min swim...FFS!), I was no more than 5 mile down the road when my calf...not gradually...instantly locked up in agony! I couldn't shake it off and free wheeled for a couple minutes whilst trying to stretch it out...another 5 mile, it happened again. And again. 3 times during the ride. Uuuurgh.

Got around in a respectable 1:02:12 (24mph ave...interesting...thought it was slower?).

I'd changed my running style in the months leading up to the race and converted to fore-foot racing due to me being a heel-strike runner before...which caused my knees to swell after 8-9miles. Anyhow, as soon as I started running, I cramped up...obvious with more stress on your calf during fore-foot. So, luckily, I could change back to heel strike. It was a tough run due to the constant twinge (but only locking the start of the run) but ran to my limit with a sub 40min goal. Yadda, around in 40:12. Tits on a fish. Christ on a bike. Balls. Although I think it's a 10.25k run...but "eff it". I missed out.

Interesting thing is, I qualified for a place on the GB team. Bad thing is, it's a week before IM Austria...and in Spain.

Sensible thing is, I'm 90% NOT going to do it and try again in 2012 for the *World Long Course Champs and the *European Olympic Distance Champs. *Provisional goals.

CARDIFF HALF MARATHON - Sort was 192m short

I ran as fast as my legs could carry me for 13.008 miles and finished in 1:23:32. I ate a hot dog, drank two tea's and ate another hot dog.

Very pleased...6:19 min miles.

I've lost interest in writing more in this that's it. 2010 over. Season over. Game over. End.