Friday, 6 December 2013

Mrs Motivator

This post represents quite an achievement. Just six days into the month and already I’ve equalled the number of times I managed to update the blog during the entirety of October and November. This brings it up to four posts in the last eight months.  Some might describe that as prolific.

So I’ve left a couple of cliff hangers in the last couple of weeks - that’s not a euphemism for the digestive problems resulting from too many energy gels, I mean I have some loose ends to tie up.

Er, anyway. Firstly, did I manage to claim a place in the extremely popular Sevenoaks Triathlon (“Race of the Year Winner 2010”) and more importantly have I avoided man flu since I had my jab at Tesco?

Good job the barriers are there to keep the crowds back

Well I’m delighted to say yes on both counts. While the Trihard family have all been suffering from a variety of diseases I’ve just about managed to stay strong. Last Friday I began suffering from a bit of a sore throat and a runny nose but I haven’t really missed any training (OK, I had to bottle out of the club core and run sessions on the Saturday but I still managed the swim set). As a result it’s been quite a full on week with a couple of swims, several runs and a turbo session.

One of the events I’ve got my eye on next year is a half marathon in March. I have just started a 12 week training programme in preparation. This began on Monday. According to the programme (don’t mess with the programme!) Monday is a rest day. So not wanting to mess with the programme I didn’t do any running. However Monday night is Turbo Training night and I accidentally had a long swim in the afternoon so I didn’t get off that easily.

Unfortunately I wasn’t as excited about the second day of the running programme as it involved some running and I was feeling rather tired from the previous day’s swim and turbo sessions. As it was described as an “easy” run I just about managed to get myself out of the house and pound out a few miles. 

By that time I’d properly looked at the schedule and realised to fit it around my club training sessions I was going to have to tinker with the programme (tinker, not mess - you don’t want to mess with the programme!). As a result Wednesday became a rest day.

So yesterday (Thursday) the programme dictated  a run but I didn’t feel particularly motivated. Partly because I was feeling lazy and partly because it was flipping freezing outside. Then I discovered that Mrs Trihard and one of her fellow Try-a-tri cohorts were going out for a run. This was exactly the motivation I needed (mainly because it first involved a five minute drive in a nice warm car). 

And afterwards, because I managed to lock us out, we then got an extra mile or so in running back from our friend’s house with the spare key.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Keep it in the family

Despite my distinct lack of Triathlon ability a large proportion of my time is spent training and racing. It’s therefore unsurprising that this is starting to have an impact on my nearest and dearest. 

Pre-School Trihard (PST) has said many times that when she’s old enough she wants to come running and cycling with me.

Back in September it was PST fourth birthday. As befitting such an auspicious occasion myself and Mrs Trihard bought PST her first bike, complete with a seat for her trusted companion “Bunny” and tassels on the handlebars. 

If Daddy hasn't managed to catch up with me in 10 minutes time then I'm off

Understandably PST wanted to put her new steed to work straightaway so I offered to take her out for a ride. She gleefully accepted but then cautiously added, “I don’t want to go on the road and I don’t want to go out with your triathlon friends until I've practiced.”

This is an argument (lack of practice, lack of fitness – it’s all the same thing) that I've used myself to duck out of club sessions and the occasional race in the past, so it was quite a heart warming moment to hear PST get her first triathlon excuse in.

But PST isn't the only member of the family who’s been encouraged to pull on the lycra. Over the last few months Mrs Trihard has also got into running. This initially began by following the NHS Couch to 5K podcast but she’s now managed the odd 10k training run. 

In October we ran our first organised 5k together as part of the Great South Run in Portsmouth. Mrs T was aiming for 35 minutes but with my encouragement and the allure of wearing a foil blanket for the very first time we crossed the line at 31 mins 47 seconds.

Another day of romance in the Trihard household

However, this is only the beginning. Not only has Mrs T signed  for a 10k run in February she has also (fanfare please!) entered the East Grinstead Ladies Try-a-tri event (250m swim, 15km cycle and 2.5km run) in May. 

Like a heavily contagious disease it’s spreading. She’s now potentially roped in three of her friends to do it also. No wonder it’s the fastest growing sport in the world.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Feeling a bit of a prick

So I thought it was high time I updated you on the last six months in the land of Trihard. Whilst I was regularly blogging on my training, in the build up to the race season, you may have noticed that I suddenly stopped in April.

There were major concerns that I had decided to hang up my triathlon kit but it was more of a case of losing the motivation to write about my severe lack of racing prowess than actually putting an end to my esteemed triathlon career. To put it bluntly rather than improving on my previous season I felt as though I was getting progressively worse. One of the main reasons was continuously being blighted by man flu which I couldn’t seem to stave off for more than a few weeks at a time. This not only disrupted my training but left lacking in inspiration of what to write.

In a bid to prevent a repeat of this I have decided to resort to drugs. That’s right I booked myself into that esteemed medical institution Tesco and got the flu jab. 

Artist's impression

Three weeks in (I’ve probably just cursed myself) and I’ve managed to stave off the germs The Artist Previously Known as Toddler Trihard (we’ll now refer to her as Pre-school Trihard) and Toddler Trihard (that’s right, Baby Trihard has been promoted)  have attempted to inflict on me.

Anyway, back to April.

My first race of the season was Sevenoaks Sprint Triathlon. As you may recall from previous posts there are several distances of races –including Sprint, Standard (also known as Olympic), Iron Man- with subtle variances between them. Sevenoaks consisted of a 400m swim (slightly shorter than the normal 500m sprint swim) 25km cycle and an 8km run (considerably further than the normal 5km distance in a sprint). When I’d asked a fellow club member about the course he’d said that although it was a longer run it was nice and flat. “Really?” I asked. “No” he replied and laughed, “It’s awful.”

 In the weeks leading up to the race, you’ll never guess what, I’d been ill. 

Sevenoaks is an incredibly popular race, so difficult to get in to, and I’d bagged one of the five places that had been allocated to EGTC as a local Tri club. I therefore felt obliged to take part as there were many disappointed triathletes who hadn’t been able to get in to the race. 

Unlike many races I was pleased to see that I’d been given a sociable start time of around 10am. This was particularly pleasing as I’d noticed that the very first wave of competitors were starting off from 6am. However I started to feel slightly concerned on arrival when I realised that a number of my fellow club members, who are far superior athletes than me (one of which has raced at the World Championships), had earlier start times than me. Generally in a race such as this, the slower you are the earlier you start. I had somehow therefore been lumped in with some of the serious competitors. And did I mention I’d been ill?

Once I got to the pool I relaxed slightly. Those that were swimming didn’t seem that quick, perhaps I’d been mistaken with my earlier judgement. After completing the swim I made my way to transition and picked up my bike. I’d decided that if I felt unwell after the swim I’d call it a day but with the adrenaline pumping I felt OK and I consider myself quite a strong cyclist. It’s not uncommon for me to pick off a few stragglers on the bike. However on this day that wasn’t really happening. In fact I was the one regularly being passed by other competitors. 

Lovely day for a cycle in the countryside
And that was before I'd reached the hills. In 2012 I took part in an Olympic distance Tri which involved a 40km cycle. Despite this being 15km shorter it was so much harder, I was really starting to struggle and I still had the “awful” 8km run to go. As you’ll know I’m not the fastest runner at the best of times but having been ill, and being faced with a hilly challenge I started to contemplate throwing in the towel at the end of the bike stage. By now I’d stopped being passed on the bike so realised I must be one of the last left in the field. I thought about the humiliation of being the last to cross the finishing line. “Flip it” I thought. “Someone’s got to come last, it might as well be me.”

I struggled into transition, pulled on my running shoes and prepared for the pain. The run was around a beautiful (but very hilly, not sure if I’ve mentioned that) deer park. 

So much fun
I have to confess that I walked a good third of it. The very last part was up an incredibly steep path, complete with a helpful handrail, which young famillies were walking down to enjoy an afternoon in the park. As I dragged myself up, panting away, a young lad obviously bemused by my running lycra asked his parents: “Mummy, daddy; why is that man walking?”

I answered for them: “Because I’m very tired and I haven’t done enough training!” 

Anyway, once at the top I managed to put in a final trot to the finishing line where the packing up operation was well underway with my bike looking forlornly alone in what had been the transition area. However it turns out that I wasn’t quite last to cross the line, as the race commentator cheerfully announced to the remaining spectators that there were just two more in the field.

Come in number 380, your time is up
Anyway, race entry for 2014 opens on Sunday and fingers crossed come April my flu jab will still be keeping me strong.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Race report: Basingstoke Half Marathon

So one or two of you (that's not an exaggeration, literally one or two of you) have been asking me what has happened to the blog. To be honest it comes down to the fact that I've been lazy and was worried that I was getting rather repetitive - it was mainly becoming a blog about a man who has a weak immune system and gets ill all the time rather than a man that does some triathlon training.

Anyway, seeing as I completed the Basingstoke half marathon yesterday, now seemed as good a time as any to update you on my misadventures. So how did I find myself running a half marathon on a course that the organisers describe as "challenging" (their words not mine) when I have such a distaste for the third discipline of triathlon?

Not the first time I've found myself disorientated in a field in strange clothing
Mainly it's due to that most fragile of things, the male ego. Since I last spoke to you Mrs Trihard has stepped up to the plate and started running herself. She began using the NHS Couch to 5k podcast and is now a whisker away from running 10k.

To motivate herself she has entered us into the Great South Run 5k, which takes place on 26 October. While she is now at a level where this probably won't be much of a challenge for her I am extremely proud that she'd reached this level in such a short space of time. However it suddenly occurred to me that when we'll be running this 5k it will be two years to the date since I ran (well, staggered round and just about completed) the Amsterdam Marathon.

So suddenly the male ego kicked in; while Mrs Trihard has gone from no running to entering a race, I have gone backwards to the extreme that I thought I'd struggle to run a 10k. Obviously being a loving, supportive partner I thought there was no way Mrs Trihard was going to be dining out on her running achievements while I wallowed in self pity.

So about eight weeks ago I entered the Basingstoke Half Marathon, mainly because someone at my gym had mentioned it, it's not too far from where the in-laws live and I wanted to find one I could do by the end of the year.

I found a six week training programme, which was abandoned after the first week due to illness and injury, and started pounding the local fields and pathways. About 10 days ago I discovered that "challenging" was the adjective being most associated with the event, with talk of "the legendary hills" being thrown in for good measure.

Obviously I seriously considered doing the honourable thing and abandoning the whole foolish idea but by then I was up to 10 miles in training. Round my way it's essentially all hills and cross country so I surmised that I probably could get round the course so I should just man up and do it.

With another 12 mile training run under my belt I was beginning to feel pretty confident. This was slightly undermined by some of the comments made my Toddler Trihard on the way to the event.

In recent months I have done a couple of Park Runs with Smug Running Guy (more about him later). On one of these he gamely ran with me (so for one day I allowed him to become Supportive Running Guy) helping me to what I believe is a personal best (26 mins 30 sec 5k). He was cheerily chatting throughout while I was having to repeatedly punch myself in the chest to avoid cardiac arrest but it got the job done.

On the second Park Run SRG decided to go for his own personal best so was obviously leading the charge while I sauntered around at the back. While he didn't quite achieve the PB he was after he led the pack for a few laps and finished on fifth.

Obviously with this in mind, during the journey to Basingstoke Toddler Trihard said: "Your going to win aren't you Daddy? You're going to be leading."

"Well perhaps not, but I'll be trying very hard," I responded.

"But Charlie (aka SRG) was leading when we saw him run the other day."

Anyway, despite the crushing disappointment that I was about to deliver to my daughter I tried to get my game face on which was further disturbed when entering a portaloo at the event. I accidentally stumbled into a Kenyan looking fellow who was wearing a sheepish grin and clutching a roll of toilet paper.

Turns out this chap's running prowess is better than his ability to lock a portaloo as it transpired that this was elite runner Nicholas Kirui who not only won the race in 1hr 5 mins 33 sec (eight minutes quicker than the second finisher) but who had also won the Bucharest International Half Marathon earlier in the year. Things were going well.

Soon after this we assembled at the start of the race and off we went (obviously by "we" I mean the 1300 runners, not just me and Nicholas Kirui).

Still smiling after 20 metres
I have learnt from bitter experience not to set off too quickly at the start of a run, to go at your own pace and not to get too caught up in the excitement. On top of this I'd decided to run with a bottle belt which kept slipping down (I had done my 10 and 12 mile training runs and hadn't had any problems) but for some reason the straps kept loosening. After a mile I finally managed to sort out the problem and began to relax. Obviously a few runners hadn't had my discipline and were already walking at that point. "In your faces" I supportively thought to myself.

Besides not starting off too quickly (even though I was overtaken by someone not only wearing an Elvis suit but running with a stereo pumping out The King's hits strapped to his back) my tactics for the day were to not drink from my magic potion (high carbs and caffeine drink) until at least 45 minutes in, ration my intake to every 25-30 minutes after that and to pace myself so I could get round the course without stopping to walk, even on the steepest hills.

The Basingstoke course is mainly country roads so is incredibly scenic but despite being out in the sticks has massive support from residents who cheer you on. While it was perhaps a little too hot it was a beautiful day. After a couple of miles we hit the first of many hills. Despite some runners stopping to walk I didn't find it too bad and after a couple of ascents was actually starting to enjoy myself.

But nearing the hour mark my bladder started to complain. I really didn't want to stop and tried to ignore it thinking I could make it round without answering natures call (for the fifth time that morning.)

In the end I could stand it any longer and nipped behind a bush. It was a revelation. After freeing myself from the constraints of my bladder I stepped it up a gear and increased my pace. I started going past quite a few runners who were increasingly struggling with the hills.

After making it to the around the eight mile mark (and conquering the worst hill known as the Big Dipper) I knew it was all down hill so picked up the pace even more, and guess what? I finally went past Elvis.

Top of the Big Dipper (don't get confused, race photos aren't yet available and this is all I could find.)

Unfortunately as I reached the 11 mile mark I started to fatigue. It became a real battle and I was in a lot of pain. I chided myself for overdoing it over the previous few miles. And then I heard a dreadful sound, it was the sound of Elvis catching me up. Now I was really annoyed with myself.

I didn't stop to walk but I slowed right down and as we entered an underpass taking us into the park where the race finished all I could hear was the sound of Elvis booming all around me. As we entered the park he went past.

By that point I thought I was going to throw up. A sign on a tree stated there was 650m to go, I really didn't think I could carry on let alone catch Elvis who was a good 50m or more ahead of me. But then the last of my magic potion seemed to kick in and I upped the pace again. To his downfall The King was busy playing to the crowds. Perhaps I could catch him. Suddenly I heard Toddler Trihard shout "Come on Daddy" and I really kicked into gear, sprinting past Elvis for the finish.

Yes that's me on Elvis' shoulder, about to deliver the killer blow
I made it to the finishing line on 2hrs 19mins 30 secs. That's 14 seconds quicker than The King, ah thank you very much.

But I wasn't the only person running this weekend - Smug Running Guy finished the London Royal Parks Half Marathon in 1hr 49 mins 19 sec. Pretty shabby for him when his personal best is something like 1 hr 28 mins. But hold on a second, it turns out that his star is rising and qualified to be a pacer for this year's event helping those aiming for a time of 1 hr 50 mins.

But the biggest shout out goes to SRG's elderly brother Scott who finished the Chester Marathon in a solid 4 hours 40 minutes. Well done sir.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Back in the saddle

When I started writing this blog it was all about improving on my race times, primarily by working on my running, and setting some new personal bests. What I didn't expect was to set a new personal best in the number of times I could get ill. So, if you're wondering where I've been over the last month, yet again I've been on my sick bed.

While I haven't missed any events this time round I did miss a good 10 days of training and, will I ever learn, trying to get back before I was fully healthy set me back even further. Despite being on a course of antibiotics for a chest infection I thought it would be a good idea to attend the club Sunday cycle a couple of weeks ago which involved a hill time trial.

Er, my saddle
This involved a leisurely cycle interspersed with racing up three hills, of varying distance and steepness, as quickly as we could. The first hill wasn't too bad, the second one almost killed me and the third one I managed to fall off my bike even before I started pedalling up it.Perhaps, in hindsight, it would have been sensible to give this one a miss.

My state of mind wasn't helped when during a post ride coffee the club chairman regaled us with a story about a member who had felt rather queasy during  a hill session, but carried on regardless, only to be hospitalised later in the day due to heart problems. The medical staff told him he was lucky to be alive and could have suffered major cardiac arrest if he'd decided to lie down at home. At that point I decided to head home for a lie down.

Two days later I was back at the Drs and on a further course of antibiotics. Contrary to what the Verve sang the drugs did work and I was healthy enough for the 20km time trial (on a relatively flat course) on the Sunday that has just passed. If I don't say so myself this was a lot more successful than the previous week and it seems that I'm just about recovered from my ailments.

And all in the nick of time as I have the final event in the EGTC Winter GP this Saturday, the club Sprint Triathlon. This involves racing against my fellow club members over a 500m swim, 26km cycle and a 5km run.

The weekend after this I have my first "proper" event of the season, the Sevenoaks Triathlon, which although still a Sprint distance involves a 400m swim, a 25km cycle and an 8km run.

While I'm not swimming quite at full capacity yet I'm confident my cycling will be up to scratch for these two events. But in terms of running, well, I think I've probably run twice in the last two months!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

A truly black day for running

As you may have noticed I haven't posted anything for a few weeks but was ready to return with an update this week. While I try to keep this blog as lighthearted as possible it wouldn't feel right to gloss over the terrible events that have occurred in Boston.

 At the time of writing it is clear that this was a deliberate act of terror but there is no evidence suggesting who carried out this horrific act. To be honest I don't care who it was or what the purpose was. All I care about are the people who have had what should have been the greatest day of their lives turned into a nightmare.

If you have ever taken part in an event - whether it's a sponsored walk, a 5k, a marathon or a triathlon- or  have gone along to support a friend, family member or complete stranger then you know how amazing the atmosphere is. You see people of all shapes and sizes striving to reach a goal, which is probably why so many people feel inspired to take part in the event the following year or something similar. That goal may be beating a previous time, it may be for the personal accomplishment of competing the distance, it may be to honour a loved one or it may be to raise money for a charity close to your heart. It doesn't matter why you're there and it doesn't matter what the distance is, the sense of achievement is something that is impossible to describe and is individual to you.

Having watched friends take part in several events, as well as having done them myself, not only do you also get a feeling of pride for them but also for people you've never met before. As I've experienced myself having someone giving you encouragement (you don't know who they are and you're never going to find out) can be something you'll remember for the rest of your life. So it breaks my heart to think that all these spectators and competitors, regardless of whether they were near the atrocities, whether they had finished or still had a way to go, have had these emotions replaced with something a lot more sickening. And this is without mentioning the horrific life changing injuries so many people have suffered on a day that is all about hope, inspiration, achievement and bettering yourself.

It would be fair to say that getting into running and triathlon has changed my life. One of the main reasons for this is because of the feeling of community. It's a common bond I have with millions of people, with countless others getting involved everyday. As I've said, we come in all shapes and sizes, we do it for different reasons but we are bonded in an almost spiritual way. While any incident like this is always going to seem pointless I can't think of any strategic reasoning behind attacking my community. We're just normal people trying to be all we can be.

One detail that has particularly struck me is the report that one of those who died was an eight year old boy. He was there to see his Dad run the marathon. Apparently his mum and sister were also injured in one of the blasts. When I ran the Amsterdam marathon Mrs Trihard and Toddler Trihard decided to stay in the UK. On my return Toddler Trihard presented me with a picture of a stick man running with the words "Well done Daddy." While I was disappointed they weren't there to see me on the day that picture always brings a smile to my face and reminds me of what I achieved. I feel so sorry for this man who will always look back with completely contrasting emotions and will probably wish, unlike I did, that the family had stayed at home.

Anyway, my thoughts are not only with anyone that was caught up in the terrible events yesterday but all my brothers and sisters in the running community, whatever your shape, size or distance.

Love, hugs and kisses,

Mr Trihard

Friday, 15 March 2013

Hacked off

Last week I discovered that one of my email accounts had been hacked for the second time in a month. As I'd been enjoying a few beers with some friends when I discovered the misdemeanour, I thought the most sensible course of action was to delete the offending account. I reasoned that anyone who wanted to get hold of me could do so through various other means and anyone who couldn't wasn't worth speaking to anyway. After deleting the nefarious account I felt quite a sense of freedom, wishing I'd taken this course of action years earlier. I wouldn't miss the marketing emails from hundreds of companies I'd dealt with on one single occasion several years ago. And how hard could it be to update my details for online banking and other accounts?

When I woke the next morning my feelings of emancipation had susbsided somewhat. Perhaps it hadn't been such a sensible course of action after all. I checked to see if this was something I could reverse. It wasn't. I re-read the information on the "deleting your account" page, this time paying a bit more attention to the part that stated to only take this course of action if you are extremely certain you want to do it and have backed up all the information you require from your email because you can never, ever get it back. I recalled reading this the night before and feeling certain that I did want to take this course of action at the time. Now I didn't feel so sure, but it was too late.

Throughout this week I have been coming across various accounts, such as Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles, which I use regularly, and use my old email address to log in to but never remember the password. It's quite simple to reset it they just send either a reminder or new password to your email account. The one that I no longer have access to because I have deleted it. I have more or less got there in getting it all sorted out, however I realised yesterday that all the triathlons I have signed up to this year have been with the offending email address.

This has been further complicated by the fact that I am not quite sure which events I have signed up to. Through sending out several sheepish emails (from an existing account) to event organisers it turns out I have entered one or two more than I thought. Probably after having a few beers. Luckily there haven't been any surprise Ironman events.

I guess the bright side to this is that I now know exactly what races I am competeing in and when. However, like an extended turbo training session, this whole ordeal has been a major pain in the arse.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Trojan horse

You may have seen in the news that hundreds of drivers were stranded in their cars last night on the M23. My sincere apologies to them, I think it might have been my fault. But wasn't it the snow and lack of gritting that caused all these problems, I hear you ask? Well let me explain.

Several hours, and inches of snow, later myself and Mrs Trihard were helping push cars up this hill
On Friday I commenced with operation Trojan Horse. As I have previously mentioned the weather has been a lot milder recently and as a result I have spent a lot more time out on my bike. Having owned my bike for almost two years, and it being bought second hand anyway, it has been in need of an upgrade for a while. However Mrs Trihard has this old fashioned notion that a man should provide for his family before providing for himself. So explaining a new bike while Baby Trihard and Toddler Trihard survive by squeezing out the sticky dregs of energy gel wrappers is rather tricky.

But I had a cunning plan - operation Trojan Horse. Phase one of operation Trojan Horse involved paying the lion's share of a rather bountiful payday into the joint account to help sweeten the deal in case difficult questions were asked following phase two. Phase two of Operation Trojan Horse involved taking the bike to Evans for a "routine service" but sneakily having lots of parts not only replaced, but upgraded. Voila, effectively a brand new bike without having to explain why I have a brand new bike.

Obviously one or two of my sharper readers will have spotted a slight flaw in my plan - namely that I have made this entire Machiavellian scheme public knowledge. Well, true to form I accidentally let slip to Mrs Trihard on the day that I didn't want her coming to the bike shop as she'd find out how much I'd spent.

Realising I was digging myself a hole I quickly launched a three pronged attack. First of all I subtly asked if she'd noticed that I'd paid a sizeable amount of money into the joint account. Secondly I countered that we shouldn't be getting bogged down in the finances but should focus on how much my cycling performance was going to improve, surely something that would benefit the whole family. Thirdly, and most importantly for all cyclists, I mentioned how I'd managed to reduce the cost substantially. As I've mentioned before, it always pays to shop around when buying new triathlon gear.

However in this case, I wanted the expert mechanics at Evans to carry out the work for me. Luckily Evans offer a price matching service where they will match the price of certain competitors, including Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles. While Evans mention this in their stores and on their website they obviously don't shout it from the rooftops but true to their word will match cheaper prices, obviously with certain terms and conditions. I therefore spent an hour or so checking the prices of the components I wanted with other websites the day before and saved myself a good 20% overall.

If I was a proficient mechanic and was happy to wait for the goods to arrive, I probably would have spread my purchases around as I don't agree with any company having a monopoly on a sector. However, if I'm in immediate need of an item, or in circumstances like this, it's a very useful service.

So what has this got to do with people sleeping in their cars on the M23? Well as it was Mother's Day I had to be parted from my pseudo new bike and visit mummy at the weekend. I get back, aching to see how the bike performs with its brand spanking new components and we get a massive dumping of snow. So surely I've got to take some responsibility?

Friday, 8 March 2013

Return of the King

Whilst I know you enjoy hearing about my training misadventures I think you'll have noticed that there is been an absence of reference to someone else who regularly on this blog. That's right, I'm talking about the Robin to my Batman, the Hale to my Pace, the Cannon to my Ball - Smug Running Guy. The last time we heard from SRG he'd suffered a foot injury and had been advised to rest up for a few weeks, probably aiding recovery by keeping it in some cold water.

I know you've seen it before, but any excuse to show it again

Well I'm glad to announce that he's fully recovered and back to his best. During my slight hiatus from blogging in February he completed the Great Bentley Half Marathon in 1hr 28 mins - 82nd overall, 36 seconds shy off his personal best and the second finisher for his running club.

Last Sunday he competed in the Essex 20, a cleverly named race that has a distance of, you guessed it, 20 miles. Finishing in a very respectable 2hrs 21 mins he says, rather smugly of course, that he is well on target for finishing in under 3hrs 10 mins when he runs the Halstead and Essex Marathon in May.

However it's not been all sweetness and light for SRG. During a training run this week he was viciously assaulted when the passenger of a moving car hurled a sandwich at him. He hasn't revealed to me what flavour it is. I'm not sure I would consider being presented with savoury snacks during a run necessarily a bad thing, but he has definitely become a bit of a food dodger in recent years. I guess this incident has you asking what hive of scum and villainy does SRG live in. Well, despite spending a number of years in Liverpool and Shropshire he has returned to Colchester, the town where we were both born and bred.

But while the streets are lined with culinary flinging assailants, as you can see from this paper cutting, it does have its positive aspects.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A bad case of the runs

While the sun is always shining in the Trihard household, much like the 21st Century, UK equivalent of the Cunningham household, warmer weather has certainly raised my spirits. With a good couple of weeks of rude health behind me, the longest sustained period of avoiding man flu since the turn of the year, and milder conditions has meant my training has got more or less got back on track.

Happy Days

That's right, more or less back on track. In the last couple of weeks I have been out on my bike several times, with some shorter speeedy rides mixed in with some longer harder efforts on top of Tuesday night turbo training.

As well as the club swim sessions I've spent more time in the pool than I've previously managed this year. So what's the problem? That's right my lack of motivation for running has once again reared its ugly head. Other than the Swim/Run of the Winter GP (which I did in 32 mins 44 secs, since you ask. That's right more than a minute and a half quicker than last year) I had only been out for one run in five weeks.

I therefore begrudgingly went along to the run session with EGTC on Saturday which was a horrendous hill set. This involved running up a short, steep hill for 45 seconds, getting the heart rate up to 90 per cent, returning to the bottom of the hill and repeating 12 times. I'm not sure how many times I managed it but it certainly wasn't the required dozen and I have felt rather shattered since.
Artist's impression of me striding up a hill with ease

But this morning I finally summoned up the motivation to get out for a run on my own. Still feeling the effects of Saturday (and a long, hard ride on Monday) I wasn't sure how I would fare. However I was amazed to find that I actually enjoyed it and even found some of the hills slightly easier than normal. Well in the fact that I only had to stop once and got slightly further up the one ascent that is my nemesis. On this form I could might even make it round the route without stopping by the end of the season. With Easter just round the corner could a Trihard resurrection be in the offing?

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

River deep, mountain high

I am of rather a sweaty disposition and it's not uncommon of me, particularly during the summer months, generally at a wedding, to regularly ask Mrs Trihard whether I am sporting an embarassing sweat patch.

Usually I am. When I lived in London one of the main reasons I'd cycle into work was so I had a legitimate reason to take a shower before I reached my desk. On the rare occasions I used the tube I'd stagger out of London Bridge station dripping with sweat looking like I'd spent an hour in a sauna wrapped in bin bags.

It can happen to the best of us. And Tony Blair
Having therefore seen me in many different sweaty states Mrs Trihard was highly intrigued when I returned from last night's club Turbo Training session proclaiming that I'd just been sweating more than I ever had in my life.

As I've mentioned before, the way the turbo sessions work is working up to a percentage of your maximum heart rate using different cadence/resistance on the bike. This simulates different cycling conditions, for example, cycling at a low cadence in a high gear (a slower rate of spin with higher resistance) simulates a hill climb while cycling in a lower gear at a higher cadence (spinning more quickly with less resistance) simulates a descent or more a sprint.

In the turbo sessions that we've had so far we have regularly worked up 85-90 per cent of our maximum heart rate, sometimes for prolonged periods. However these are always broken up with recovery periods where we cycle in a low gear to get the heart rate back down. However last night's session was slightly different. Last night we kept our heart rates at 85 per cent for 40 minutes alternating between low cadence, high gear hill climbs and higher cadence, lower gear spins in the "aero position" (holding on to the curly bits of the handle bars).

Wiggo goes Aero
Therefore there were no recovery periods during the main, 40 minute, section of the set. Therefore I was drowning in a river of my own sweat. More than I've sweated before.Apart from that time when I was 17, house sitting for a friend and I had a surprise visit from my mum. But that's another story.

Monday, 25 February 2013

The comeback trail

Hello, it's been a while hasn't it? So what have I been up to in the last 18 days? Well much the same as was detailed in the last post - fighting and losing the battle against cold, after cold, after cold. As a result I have missed several events in a bid to get healthy. Training has been rather sporadic so I haven't had a great deal to talk about and I'm sure everyone is well and truly sick of hearing about me being sick. Hopefully I'm now ready to fight back and properly resume my training.

However a few things have happened since my last post. First of all I had my 35th birthday and received several triathlon related gifts so hope to tell you about those in future posts. While I have missed a couple of events (some that I'd entered independently and others that are part of the EGTC Winter GP) and haven't been training quite as much as I'd like there have been one or two small triumphs.

One of these was the 1km time trial swim which was part of the Winter GP on 9 February. Despite it being the day after my birthday (meaning I'd treated myself to a few glasses of bubbly) I did it in 18 minutes 26 seconds, taking quite a chunk of my previous best which was 19 minutes 56 seconds.

This Saturday should have been the off-road duathlon that I won entry to. However, as I mentioned I haven't been doing a great deal of running in recent weeks, particulalry of no distance so didn't feel particularly confident about the 8km run, 13km cycle, 4km run off road. This was compounded by the fact that the amount of off-road cycling I'd been planning to do in the weeks before has been severely limited. When I had been out, even since the last post, it involved some embarassing spills so decided to give it a miss.

However as I didn't feel totally on the scrap heat I made it to the Swim/Run event of the Winter GP. Effectively a sprint triathlon without the cycle section, this involved a 500m swim straight into a 5km run. Last year I did it in 34 minutes 15 seconds which I was quite happy with at the time.

However I knew I wasted a lot of time trying to pull on a t-shirt (a lot more cumbesome than you expect when you're soaking wet) and lacing up my trainers on after getting out of the pool. This year I wore my Tri-suit (despite then having to run in the snow!) and had elasticated laces so didn't waste as much time in the transition or have to stop repeatedly to re-tie my trainers. I don't know what my official time was but am pretty confident that I have beaten last year's effort.

And if I have managed to avoid hyperthermia from running through East Grinstead half naked in the snow then hopefully I have well and truly beaten the man-flu!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Kill or cure

Have you missed me? It's been rather a long time since I updated the blog, primarily because I haven't been doing any training. This last bout of man flu really knocked me sideways and as a result I went 10 days without any exercise. Whilst I had intended to wait until I was fully recovered before doing anything too strenuous I have to confess that cabin fever got the better of me and on Tuesday I got out on my mountain bike for a bit of an off-road session. 

As well as feeling quite restless the fact I have the off-road duathlon in just over two weeks was enough of an incentive to get out, even if it wasn't the most sensible option in the long run. And I have to confess I feel a lot better for it. However it wasn't the most enjoyable ride, particularly because I ended up taking a bath in a huge muddy puddle.

Artists impression
 My mountain bike is fitted with SPD's (to the layman pedals that your cycling shoes are attached to and you have to click in and out of.) Having embarassed myself on several occasions, by not being able to get my feet out quick enough and falling down to the side, I decided to play around with tension so that it easier to make the movement smoother. Before heading out I even had a quick test and was satisfied that I could get my foot out of the pedal and down on the floor if I had to make any sudden stops.

However a test on the drive isn't the same as a test in the field and my first test in the field occurred as I came to a sudden stop in the middle of a newly formed lake. I desperately tried to twist my foot out, but without any luck, and down I went soaking myself in the freezing cold water and mud. I was absolutely covered. The only consolation was that while the left side of my body was completely submerged my ride side stayed dry, including the pocket which my brand new iPhone was contained in. Just in case I had any accidents and had to call for help.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013


Sunday was a perfect day for a run in Epsom. Overnight rain had cleared the snow and for the first time in over a week the sun was shining. But unfortunately I wasn't running. One of the many, many joys of having children is the eternal cycle of illnesses that you seemed to get. After a week of having Baby and Toddler Trihard coughing in my face I finally succumbed to my third illness of the year. That's right, my third virus and we're still not out of January.

Berocca isn't working, time for a new approach in helping the immune system
 While I had a slight tickle developing I made it to the swim and core session on Saturday morning. While the core session is never easy (using your own bodyweight to build up strength and I'm weightier than most) I found I was struggling a bit more than usual. I put this down to the fact we'd had a particularly gruelling swim session, doing a lot of resistance training (using paddles, pull buoys and the added joy of T-shirts) and Baby Trihard had been awake a couple of times during the night. However by late afternoon the tickle had developed more into a chesty cough and I was beginning to feel rather rough.

While I was disappointed to be missing out on the first event in the EGTC Winter GP I decided it wasn't worth pushing myself and making the illness worse. While I am feeling considerably better today the cough still hasn't abated. I had promised myself that I would have a whole week from training but I'm already getting fidgety. I know from bitter experience that exercising when not feeling 100% can prolong the illness but as you know I don't always do the sensible thing.

And in case you wondering about the title of today's blog it stands for Did Not Start. Usually these are the three letters you see beside your name once the results are in and you didn't show. However the organisers of The Perch have spared me this embarrassment.  WTF?!

Friday, 25 January 2013

A worthy cause

Since I first got into this fitness lark I have done a few events in the name of charity. This has involved an eight mile run, a 10k and a half marathon. However one member of the triathlon club is well and truly putting me to shame with a 120km trek across the Arctic this coming February. Absolute madness! Francine volunteers for Sussex Search and Rescue who are responsible for locating vulnerable people when they go missing. She and her SSR colleague will be braving -35 degree temperatures to raise £3000 for new search equipment.

Francine signed up to this incredible challenge last February and started doing triathlon just to get fit for the Arctic. After taking part in the club's "Try-a-Tri" she decided to join the club and is now "hooked on triathlon"!

Anyway, you can read all about it on the local  paper's website and if you want to donate to the cause you can do so here.

Winter wonderland

Last weekend my blushes were spared by the fact that Saturday's run, swim and core sessions were officially cancelled due to the weather. However I managed to get down to the gym and swim a few lengths and also ran home in the snow so my training wasn't too badly affected. And I did manage to get out on the sledge without breaking my leg.

Cool Runnings
Unfortunately the continuing winter weather meant that I wasn't able to make it to Tuesday's turbo training but I was a good boy and did the session at home. Anyway, enough about last week - this weekend it'll be business as usual in the pool but Sunday also sees the start of the East Grinstead Triathlon Club Winter GP. This is a series of events over the next months to give us competitive practice before the racing season officially starts. Ranging from timed swims to bike time trials it all kicks off with a 6.25 mile crosscountry run at Nonsuch Park in Epsom (known as The Perch and organised by Epsom Oddballs Running Club) and culminates with a Sprint Triathlon in April.

As well as creating a bit of friendly competitiveness amongst the club members it also helps to gauge progress made from one season to another. The end result of this is a club trophy awarded to the male and female who have given the best performance throughout the GP but also those who have showed the greatest improvement in cycling, running and swimming.

While I won't be troubling for the position of Top Dog in the Winter GP I'm hoping that I will have shown enough improvement in one of the three different disciplines to be in contention for one of the other awards but that's down to my fellow EGTC club members to decide. The campaign starts here!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Snow hope

So I made it to the Thursday night swim set last night and feel a lot better for it. As I result I even got up early and did the turbo training session that I didn't feel up to on Tuesday. Yes that's right, at 6.45am I was on the turbo trainer fuelled by just a cup of coffee - in your face Lance Armstrong.

However at the moment it looks like I won't be making it to tomorrow's swim/core/run session. Why is that I hear you ask? It's because of the snow. Actually if you've read the title of the blog post you probably didn't ask that question. Anyway I am a big kid at heart and having been subjected to tantalising pictures from around the country, that have made me green with envy,  the snow has finally made it to West Sussex. It started at 8.30 and after just three hours this is what the road looked like outside our house.

When it snowed last year, due to the fact that we live on a hill, cars were being abandoned outside our residence. With snow forecast throughout the night I'm not sure I fancy my chances driving the six miles to East Grinstead at 6am tomorrow, when it's highly unlikely that the roads will have been gritted. However I do plan to have a good run in the snow on my own tomorrow even if I can't do it with my fellow club members. That's unless I have broken my leg sledging this afternoon. Woohoo!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


So I'm feeling rubbish again. Obviously this time of year there are lots of bugs flying around but at the moment they all seem to be attracted to me. While I haven't been confined to bed it's been enough to prevent me from exercising since Saturday which is very frustrating. I therefore gave last night's turbo training a miss and will have to see how I'm feeling tomorrow for the Thursday's swim session.

While I haven't completely gone off the rails, my calorie counting has also been a little lacklustre, perhaps caused by the fact that we were away for the weekend so it was difficult to assess my calorie intake. Perhaps because I ended up drinking too much red wine on Saturday night.

I was aiming to make it through a bit more of January before I succumbed but c'est la vie. On a brighter note I've still lost around half a stone since the beginning of the year so need to try and keep my motivation levels up.

Anyway, seeing as next Monday is dubbed the most depressing day of the year - when most people have given up on their New Year Resolutions, don't have any money and still have two weeks until payday etc - the British Dietetic Association has put out some tips on how food can help boost your positivity at this depressing time of year.

1) Skipping meals leads to low blood sugar levels which can leave you feeling tired, grumpy and craving sugar.  Planning regular meals and small snacks will avoid these danger points in your day.  Choosing foods that have a lower glyacemic index will help fill you up and sustain your energy levels for longer as they your blood sugars stay stable.  Try adding beans and lentils to dishes, choose 'oaty' dishes like porridge or muesli and add a low fat yoghurt to your lunch.

2) Whole grain carbohydrates are not only lower in glyacemic index than the white versions but they increase the amount of tryptophan than enters the brain, resulting in more mood enhancing serotonin being produced. Include wholegrain bread, pasta, oats, and wholegrain cereals at meals, try adding pearl barley to soups and bulgur wheat to salads.

3) B vitamins play a vital role in energy release.  Therefore eating more of these will help improve your energy levels, lifting your mood.  121 Females taking a thiamine supplement reported improved mood, a clearer head, increased energy levels and better cognitive function.  Folate is another micronutrient that has been shown to be linked to mood through blood samples taken from 58 men.  Eating more green vegetables, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, almonds, strawberries, tomatoes and peppers will boost your thiamine and folate levels.  Wholegrain cereals are also fortified with these nutrients.

4) Iron is well known to be linked to fatigue and low energy.  It's lesser know that there is also a link to poor mood and concentration.  Topping up your iron will boost that feel good factor.  Include red meat, dried fruit, green vegetables and wholegrains in your diet.

5) The Mediterranean diet contains plenty of fruit, vegetables nuts, fish, olive oil, cereals and some red wine.  Eating these foods is associated with better mental health scores.  So making sure you are meeting the 5 a day recommendation for fruit and veggies, go wholegrain with your cereals and sticking to healthy fats such as olive oil, oily fish and nuts really can work.

So I hope you took note of all those interesting titbits. Guess it's time for some more red wine.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

All you can eat

This week has been rather a busy one. As you may have noticed this has meant that the blog hasn't been updated as regularly as I would have hoped over the last week. Getting back to work after the Christmas break is always pretty hectic but on top of this I've had a touch of man flu while Toddler Trihard and Baby Trihard have formed a highly effective tag team to ensure we don't go more than two hours of getting uninterrupted sleep. Sleep deprivation really brings joy to my heart, much like a grizzly bear being woken from hibernation, so as you can imagine I've been an incredibly cheery soul this week.

And what's for the main course?
Anyway this week's main headline is that I have already successfully dropped a few pounds as a result of limiting and monitoring my calorie intake with My Fitness Pal. It hasn't been quite as tough as I thought it would be however I did face a major challenge when we had a get together which featured a rather impressive buffet. There is nothing I like more than having access to pretty much unlimited food. Also this particular buffet featured several pizzas which would be my desert island food. I freaking love the stuff. I was extremely restrained, only having two slices as well as a few other nibbles, but when I totted up my calories afterwards it made me realise how loaded with excess buffet food is. I did read the other day that some pizzas contain a wine glass of fat in them. Artery bustin' tasty! It was soup for me that night to make up for the damage.

In terms of exercise, while I made it to the EGTC Saturday swim set I gave the core session and run a miss as I was starting to feel under the weather. I then rested until Tuesday which then left me feeling well enough to attend Tuesday's Turbo session which was the dreaded heart rate monitor test. This involved cycling at the hardest sustainable effort for 25 minutes, after a warm up, which was a real killer. I then made it out for a 5km run yesterday which wasn't the most pleasant experience following the previous day's exertions but was the first run since New Year's Eve jaunt with Smug Running Guy.

Unfortunately SRG received some rather disappointing news from his Dr this week (on his birthday no less!). He has got some soft tissue damage on his foot (I've been telling him he's a softy for years) so has got to take around a month off the running to recover. So here's wishing SRG a belated happy birthday and a speedy recovery.