Kona 2022

About three years ago I signed up for a triathlon. Five months after that I managed to drag my way around that triathlon and kind of enjoy it.. little did I know how much of an impact this would have on my life!

After that first race (super sprint distance) I discovered there was a huge world of triathlon out there. One of the first things I stumbled upon was the Ironman World Championships in Kona.

For those who don’t know the Ironman World Championships are held every October in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Some of the best triathletes of the year gather on the island a race each other over the 3.9km swim, 180km bike ride and 42km run.

What a bunch of nutters.

Anyway, I’d like to go there and do that in 2022. You can’t just rock up to a world championship event you have to qualify for it. To qualify for it you have to be one of the best athletes at an Ironman event, like top-5 in your age group good.

I’m nothing in the shape I need to be to hit this goal right now. So I need to really apply myself for two years and hopefully I will find myself swimming with turtles in 2022. I’ve been telling people this for quite a while now but now its time to turn my threats of getting good at sports into some form of reality.

To stand a chance of seeing those turtles, 2021 will have to be a big year for me. I have a few goals I have set myself. I need to train consistently, on 31st December 2021 I want to look back on my Training Peaks and see 52 weeks of perfectly completed sessions. Of course illness and life may get in the way so I want to perfectly complete more than 95% of the training sessions I am given.

If we are lucky enough to race I have two A-races; Ironman 70.3 Marbella which I want to complete in less than 5 hours and Ironman Switzerland which I want to complete in less than 11 hours.

I’m also going to keep a training diary on this blog. Reflection is one of the best ways to improve yourself and a training diary helps you to really understand how you are feeling. Why not share it with the one or two people who might read this website?

Those are some pretty hefty goals, but if I train, eat and sleep well I see absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t hit them.

My new season of training kicks off on the 26th October.. wish me luck.


An FTP test retrospective

Yesterday, I did an FTP test -functional threshold power test – on my bike. This is a test to find out how hard you can cycle for one hour. I failed a test back in May and I’ve been nervous about it all week. 

The test went pretty well and I’ve managed to up my FTP from 266w to 275w, which I am pretty happy with. But, if I’ve learnt anything whilst working in an agile software engineering world it’s that a good retrospective can’t go amiss. So here’s a brief look at what went down.

An FTP test could be done two ways, an all out 20 minute effort or with two all out 8-minute efforts up a climb. I did the latter at a climb on Portsdown Hill just North of Fareham. I would be covering ~3.6km and climbing ~100m in that time. 

Portsdown Hill climb

I thought I’d done a good job with planning, but I didn’t and I’ll explain why now. 

My first mistake was choosing a climb with a descent and a flat piece of road mixed it. Yes, it makes you faster, but it makes producing high power a lot harder and inconsistent compared to the rest of the climb. The relief of a descent also isn’t helpful. During a 100% effort climb, it is cruel to your mind and legs.

Those pesky flats and descents

I also didn’t pay close attention to the roads I would be using. Below you can see I go onto a main road and leave it all in the space of 30 seconds, crossing oncoming traffic.

Also, making a left turn onto a busy and fast main road:

Two reasons why those route choices are a bad idea. First, and always first, is safety. Whether flying up a climb or descending onto a main road, it really isn’t smart to risk. Myself or a driver might not be paying full attention! I was fortunate it was a quiet day and I was able to keep an eye on any traffic that may have been passing and take the roads sensibly.

Another reason is keeping safe or stopping (which you should be doing) has an impact on your 8-minute effort. Take a look at these two graphs showing a dip in power output on the two efforts.

That is roughly 20 seconds where I’m not applying power, freewheeling or braking whilst I turn onto a main road. In a test of my ability to put power down consistently over a time period it really isn’t helpful. My consistent-ish power before this is ruined and then a power spike as I felt I need to catch up with lost power.

All of this slowing down and letting your power drop down into the 100 watts makes returning to putting out 300 watts absolutely horrible, not that it was nice before, but you really don’t want to give your mind or body a taste of relaxation during an effort like that.

Even though I made my evening slightly dangerous and hard I managed to score myself a watts per kg (W/KG) that rates me as good/very good at pushing the pedals on my bike.

That value impacts my training and how hard I’ll be cycling over the next few months. A better route could have added another 5 watts to my FTP, meaning my training over the next few months could have been harder than it will be now, which could mean I would improve faster! That’s all pretty important as I’m trying to get better at triathlon and crack an age group top-25 of an Ironman event next year. 

Not that my result is bad, but this shows that some not so smart route planning during an FTP test can have an impact further down the line!


January 2019 in sports

As the year counter ticked over from 2018 to to 2019 I kicked into motion my plan to get better at this sports thing. This mainly took the shape of doing a lot more exercise and trying to stick to my training plan as closely as I can.

Here’s some numbers from Training Peaks:

Total time – 40 hours 29 minutes
Total distance – 726km

Running time – 9 hours 40 minutes
Running distance – 93.4km

Cycling time – 20 hours 6 minutes
Cycling distance – 620km

Swim time – 4 hours 37 minutes
Swim distance – 11,845m

Strength time – 3 hours 15 minutes

Those are the biggest numbers I’ve ever done, which is pretty exciting. I still have three whole months of preparation for Ironman 70.3 Barcelona so I need to make sure I can keep this up.

Somethings I need to work on:

  • Swim sessions – I was pretty lax in doing them and sticking to the target distances
  • Strength and injury prehab I have the time to expand these sessions
  • Sleep – I’m not getting in enough sleep. I should be aiming for over 8 hours a day
  • Food – I’m not regularly doing the meal prep I should be which means I am eating rubbish every now and then.

The Great South Run 2018

Definitely need new running shorts. 

Between my Sister, Dad and Mum the Terry family have completed The Great South Run a total of six times. Every year a family member has completed it I have never found myself quite ever wanting to run the 10 miles (16km) around Portsmouth. However, given my new found love for endurance sport I thought this year would be as good a year as any to give it a go.

I can tell you already that having done a few sprint triathlons, some long bike rides and few casual training runs does not translate to a very pleasant 10 mile run. 

The first 6km started out pretty well. I started chugging along the Southsea seafront at just under my target pace of 5 min/km and I felt fine. As we worked our way into through Old Portsmouth and into the Portsmouth Naval base I started to feel a bit sore around my chest, perhaps a sign that I was running a little bit too fast? I decided to keep my pace and carry on running and the pain quickly faded – a good sign, or so I thought. 

One part of the run takes you through the city centre and out to a roundabout and back. This is where the wheels quickly came off the wagon! I made it through the first water station and I was as much of a terror to the volunteers as Patrick Lange as I tried to grab bottles of water:

The bottles were a bit of a pain to open as I was running along so I found myself running with bottles for a while as I opened and then tried to drink gracefully. In hindsight I don’t think it is possible to drink gracefully whilst running; in future races I will just accept that water face happens and take in what I can. After the aid station I had to navigate a short obstacle course of jelly babies as someone ahead of me must have demonstrated some poor hand eye co-ordination whilst picking them up.

Anyway, back to the de-wheeling of the wagon. The run leg to the roundabout and back was tough. For some reason the long straight road with a view of people running back the other way didn’t sit well with me. Somehow I survived but I think the mental hit resulted in me losing about 20 seconds a kilometer with half the distance remaining that meant I was very quickly losing time on my target time – shouldn’t have been so vocal about thinking I could hit that time oh well. 

The next leg of the race featured a run back towards Southsea and into some spectator heavy territory. The worst time to be thinking a quick walk wouldn’t be too bad. I managed to perceiver through the negative thoughts and stumbled by my Mum and Dad. Unfortunately I had been looking down at my watch at the time and the video of me stumbling along doesn’t look too great!

It had really started to get warm by this point and I was starting to feel the effects of it and seeing a water station bought a lot of relief to me! Shame it took me about three attempts to grab a bottle of water from someone. A couple of sips of water bought me back to life and for some reason I didn’t drink anymore than that! Got. To. Force. The. Water. Down. Me. 

Soon I was approaching the final turn in the course and heading back along the sea front to the finish line. This bit actually wasn’t too bad. I had a fixed goal of a helicopter hovering over the finish line so I was able to focus on running towards that. Felt a bit sad as the pacer for 1h 25 ran past me and I couldn’t make myself run any faster to keep up with him but I powered through. 

Before I knew it I was at the final 800m and then what felt like 800ms later I was at the 400m sign and then about another 800m I was crossing the finishing line. Which looked like something out of Saving Private Ryan but with people vomiting and the shell shock effect replaced by my hearing going for a bit and me feeling a bit wobbly.

So I made it through the race, definitely wasn’t what I hoped for but I’m glad I got it done anyway. Definitely need to pay more attention to training correctly for an event, completing the training plan and then making sure I fuel correctly during the event. 

The only fuelling on the course was provided by water, jelly babies and a free Sports in Science Gel. The gel was provided too late in the course for me; with about 15/20 minutes left which I don’t think is enough time for the carbs to actually get into the system. However, the electrolyte top up was very much appreciated!