Well Sunday saw me compete in the 2008 Monaco 70.3 event. We arrived in Monte Carlo on the Friday and I immediately noticed the heat. Saturday was hot too. I was sweating in the shade thinking “wow, this will be a hot race”.


Saturday saw all the bags and bikes getting put into transition. We also completed brief swim, bike and run efforts to get the body moving correctly.

I woke up at 4h45 on Sunday morning and noticed that it had been raining. We ate and then got down to the start area. Got the wetsuit on and handed in the street wear bag.


I placed myself midway forward and on the left. The signal to start went and I headed into the water. I started well and ran out of space so ended up being squeeze further to the left in the water. Unfortunately this meant navigating around the pier / water break along with many other athletes. In the mass start I ended up not being able to swim and got my toe dragged on a rock ending up with a cut toe. After the race I noticed rip in my wetsuit that looks like it came from an encounter with the rocks too. Doh! I’m not sure how easy it will be to get repaired but I am going to contact Sailfish Wetsuits to see what they can do for me. I am really not lucky with my wetsuit in the swim starts!

During the swim I ended up feeling like I was far out to sea with other swimmers drifting towards the beach. I’m convinced I was swimming relatively straight towards the next buoys with everyone else doing an odd route… could everyone else really not have been going straight? I got to the second turn buoy and headed in to the beach. The swim back to shore felt good. I got into more of a racing rhythm than my slower catchup like stroke. I felt fast. I got out the water in 41 minutes.


Slow and leisurely is th way to describe T1. I put on loads of sunscreen and generally dawdled. Out the tent I started the long run through the bike park. By the time I got to my bike I noticed one of my socks didn’t feel right so I adjusted it – more time lost!


The bike had three major climbs to cover. I felt good on the bike and felt reasonable strong on the climbs. I was keeping my eye on the distance covered and eased off slightly just before the climbs to ensure my legs were not “maxed out” starting the climbs. Of course, the 34/50 and 12-25 gearing on my bike probably helped, but my legs had to keep the pedals going.

I descent after the first climb was a little hair-raising. Lots of switch backs and blind turns with some rough bits of road. My hands got a good workout with all the breaking involved. The roads were meant to be closed but there was traffic to contend with on a few short sections of the race, including part of the descent back to Monte Carlo.

I kept to my plan of a bottle of RIDE and three gels each hour – much like for the Austria 70.3 race. I must admit that I had a couple of sips of coke on the bike ride too which was a welcome change.

All in all, the bike was not as tough as I originally expected. In hindsight I could perhaps have pushed a bit harder on the bike. A time of 3h41:54 on the bike.


The long run through the bike racking area seemed to take ages to complete. Into the tent and off with the bike shoes and socks and on with the cycling footwear.


As soon as I set out on the run I knew it was going to be a long run. My tummy felt full and bloated – similar to the Austria 70.3 race. Perhaps I am consuming too many calories on the bike resulting in my sore stomach? This is something I need to try and get right.

The run consisted of 4.5 laps. The run course is fairly flat apart from the long climb up to the Monte Carlo casino and then the descent back down to the beachfront road. I managed to run up the climb on the first lap but not the second, third or fourth. I did not feel comfortable for the first 3.5 laps. After picking up my fourth wrist band my tummy started feeling better and I managed to run virtually the whole of the last lap back to the finish. I felt relatively good on the last lap and I hope to get some timing figures for the 4.5 laps. I think the splits will be quite interesting.

I ran up the hill to the casino and over the finishing line completing the 21.1km in a time of 2h20:01. Not a great half marathon time at all. Roughly 10 minutes slower than my Austria 70.3 run time – although the Austria 70.3 run is much flatter.


Swim: 0h41:01

T1: 0h08:28

Bike: 3h41:54

T2: 0h05:48

Run: 2h20:01

Total: 6h57:12

Well a tough race, particularly the run. The bike is not that tough but is certainly slow going. The swim start is tricky due to the narrow exit from the swim area out to the sea. I think that I would start on the right of the start area if I was to start this race again. The toughest part of the race for me was the run. All in all a enjoyable and pretty well organised race.

Now to plan for the next one…

Well the London Triathlon has come and gone. My wave was the Male Open heat which got started at 07h00 without any rain! A couple of days ago, rain was forecast but this changed yesterday – phew! Upon arrival I was a little startled by the scale of the transition area. In a word: HUGE. I was expecting it to be big but seeing it in person was a sight! 

The swim went reasonably smoothly. I would like to request that swimmers atleast have an attempt at seeding themselves correctly. Why-oh-why did breast stroke swimmers think that front row starting positions were appropriate? After less than a minute I was having to navigate around them- LESS THAN A MINUTE! Anyway, after that there was a bit of bashin’ and bumpin’ on the first half of the swim while we all fought for some space in the water and tried to get the pacing right. After the turn around the swimmers were spread out better and hence there was less bashing!

The start of T1 was bad – I couldn’t get my feet out the wetsuit. It’s not happened to me before but maybe I didn’t put enough body-glide on my ankles. With the wetsuit off and in the bag and the cycling shoes put on the bike leg started.

The bike went well. No major drama apart from a slight shortage of drinks on the bike. This was in part due to a fair amount of drink sloshing out of my aero-bottle – damn those bumpy London roads. I did see a fair few riders with punctures though.  Touch wood, I escaped that fate! I was cautious on the bends and corners and avoided painted lines and metal covers as there was still some moisture on the road. I was desperately trying to avoid skidding off unnecessarily in the wet. (I later saw someone who must have come off. He was covered in big plasters, 5×3 inches, down his back, on his right arm and left leg).

T2 was fairly smooth. I slipped off the cycle shoes and socks and slipped (OK, tugged and pulled) the running socks and then shoes on.

The run consisted of two laps out and back around the dock. It was fairly flat apart from the entrance and exit climbs to the ExCeL first floor. There were some cobbles on the run leg which were a little annoying.

All in all I was a happy camper! The race director’s offical distances were 1500m/38km/9.8km. My chip times for the swim, bike and run were: 29:40 / 1h15:54 / 49:43. Overall time, including transitions, was 2h44:07. I am very happy with my sub-30minute swim and ecstatic to be well below my 3 hour target.

I did some analysis of my times in each discipline. I calculated my position in the Men’s Open Olympic category for each of my times.

  • 289th for swim time of 29:40
  • 845th for T1 time of 5:25
  • 391st for bike time of 1h15:54
  • 902nd for T2 time of 3:27
  • 644th for run time of 49:43
  • Overall 465 out of 1083 for time of 2h44:07

I am surprised that I am now relatively strong in the swim. I thought my bike would have been slightly better positioned. To maintain 289th on the bike I would have had to knock off 1:24 or go 2% faster (less caution in the wet?). I’m not surprised by my run time as I was not pushing my hardest in an effort to protect my knees. I did run a negative split however (25:58 vs 23:45). So, based on this, I need to maintain my swim and work my bike training smarter and hopefully a bit harder. I need to strengthen my knees and associated muscles for the run in order to have confidence that my knees won’t let me down.

Transitions times were too slow. To maintain 289th after swim my T1 would need to be 3:42 (I did have problems with my wetsuit and did have to put a cycle sock on twice as it was not comfortable) which is saving almost 2 minutes. T2 289th time is 2:11 – again I was 1:20 slower. Thinking about it, maybe my slowness is due to wanting to get things perfect (no wrinkly socks, dry feet, HRM in place, etc) rather than suffer with socks that rub or missing glasses.

Getting away from the analysis (HR data to follow soon), I must re-iterate that I am chuffed with my time and performance. There is always next year to improve 🙂 I must remember to keep focused on the “fun” and “enjoyment” factor and not get bogged down on how to improve!

As promised, here is a race report. I may add to it in coming days or weeks as I remember extra things to add.


The day we arrived (Thursday) we ended up having dinner and putting the bikes together. I got mine assembled and ready. I then assisted the others… notably with a missing magnet for a Polar speed sensor (luckily I had not removed mine after switching to Garmin) and a Profile Design aero bottle (managed to get the extension lugs to fit Claire’s aero bars…). 

The day before the race was somewhat disorganised. We seemed to do far more walking than I had intended or my coaches had suggested. We eventually had gone for a test ride, checked in the bikes, checked in T1 and T2 bags and attended the race briefing. The race briefing was meant to be at 17:00 in English according to the race literature and website. The event office advised that it was definitely at 17:30 in English. Anyway we arrived at 17:25 to hear the last few things about the race in English. Clearly there was confusion. In the end we managed to get a brief race briefing in English – good thing to as the run course and the 6 passes through the stadium was a bit confusing.

Race morning

Up and at breakfast at 06:00. Had some chocolate covered cornflake type things, a couple of bread-rolls with honey, some orange juice and a cup of not-so-great coffee. We headed over to T1 to check the bikes and put the nutrition on the bike. Then to the toilets (again). Oh to be a woman at a triathlon… no queues for the toilets, unlike the men’s…

The Swim

On with the wetsuit. Not so difficult as have had a few practise runs. Bodyglide on the underarms, neck, ankles and wrists and suncream on the back, shoulders and arms. Got it on and comfortable and got the goggles and swim-cap in place.  Oh the crisis – Chris had lost his goggles (later to be found in a compartment in his bag…) and was in a spin. Luckily I had a spare pair of goggles with me just in case… He was ever so happy as they were the same make and model that he uses.

We wandered into the water and I got the water into my wetsuit and got ready. I positioned myself near the back to avoid the scrum at the start. The gun went off and we started. My “near the back” plan was working as I had somewhat free water in front of me and no one swimming over me… until some idiot came flying over me and I felt something on my backside. Closer inspection revealed that the idiot who came flying over me actually put a nick in my wetsuit 🙁  It’s almost through the neoprene so I am going to have to try get it repaired.

Anyway apart from that the swim went well. The swim out to the first buoy was a bit cramped and I kept catching up with some people and swimming past. I took the buoy wide and found some clear water. I found my rhythm and then just enjoyed myself to the end of the first lake. We had about a 200m run/jog to the second lake for the next 1000m swimming.

Found my rhythm quite quickly in the second lake and just kept going. I managed to pass one or two yellow hats (swimmers from the wave before us!!). At the turn around buoy I took it wide again and then had the exit in my sights. I got out the water after 40mins. Excellent swim as far as I’m concerned given my swimming skill level in March… Who would have thought that I actually enjoyed the 1900m swim and could have actually gone further 🙂


What can I say.. went smoothly although I could do with a bit of fine tuning on the transition.


Headed off on the bike with the first 18km on the S33 highway. Bliss riding surface. My nutrition plan called for a gel every 20 minutes (so roughly 330kcal per hour), a bottle of sports drink every 45mins-60mins with a target of 1l fluids per hour and a salt tablet every 40 mins. My bike started off loaded with 12 gels, a bottle of slightly strong Isostar and a bottle of Nuun electrolyte drink. My thinking was to use the Nuun to make up the fluid intake while avoiding too much carbs.

The plan was working well and I reached the first aid station (25km in) with the Isostar gone which was the plan.  I picked up a bottle of Powerbar drink and a bottle of water. Powerbar drink into aero bottle and dump the bottle I picked up. Very smooth indeed.

The next few kms were downhill and fast.. a couple of corners came up sharper than expected so had to hit the breaks… Then headed out along the river/lake for a gently rolling section. The nutrition and fluid intake was going well, my legs felt strong albeit aware they had done around 45km. Around this stage there were a number of groups of cyclists flying past in blatant abuse of the no drafting rule. It was somewhat satisfying to see one of the cyclists pulled over and getting a penalty!

Just before the second big climb, roughly 60km-65km, I had a toilet stop and then dumped the remaining water I was carrying. I was pretty much out of fluids at this point to minimise the weight to lug up the hill. Not a bad plan since I dumped nearly a pound (500ml) of fluid. The hill was tougher than I figured and managed to pass a few people while being passed myself. My training in Spain definitely helped out here and I kept remembering the words “stop bobbing”, “watch the cadence”, “power over the top”. The hill ended and we hit the aid station. Again I picked up water and Powerbar bottles. Then onto the next smaller hill which I had know about. After this hill my plan was to treat myself with my usual chocolate-almond bar which I’ve always enjoyed on the bike… not today however – it just wouldn’t go down and I didn’t enjoy it so I ended up having a gel instead.

And then downhill all the way home. Had a couple of good downhill stints only to be hit with another climb which I wasn’t expecting. It really was depressing to see a third, albeit lesser, hill to climb. Manged to grind up and then back to the flats and downhills. Figured it was time for another salt tablet… alas none left. “Huh?” I thought.. then I realised I had not filled it up after my sprint race the week before… “DOH!!”. I wasn’t too concerned as I knew I had some extra tablets on my run belt.

We went though a number of towns and villages along the way and the support was amazing. It’s difficult not to push things with “oompa”, “supa”, “go go go” and “up up up” being shouted at you. It felt wonderful to have the support, especially when travelling at 40-45km/h through the towns on the downhills.  So a BIG thanks to all the supporters!

Watching the distance count down I knew I was on for close to 3h on the bike, in the last couple of km I worked out that I would have to average close to 45km/h to get sub 3h so eased off… If only I had not eased off I would have shaved off those 2 seconds…. anyway I am ecstatic with 3h00:02 for the bike leg! On the final few hundred meters into T2 I decided to have some big gulps of drink to avoid having to drink right away on the run…


Uneventful really. Off with the helmet, gloves, cycle-shoes and socks and on with the running socks and shoes and grabbed my run belt which had a couple of gels and salt tablets.


I couldn’t get my Garmin 405 to start on the run. It took nearly 800m for me to get the thing working. It got into some mode that it decided is where it wanted to be. Sigh. That silly front panel is just to fiddly when running after the swim and bike legs.

Very quickly I did start to feel off. My legs and body felt strong and up for the 21.1km run but my tummy had other ideas. The tummy pains started fairly soon and stayed there. I had thoughts of going to the loo, stopping, walking but managed to get into a rhythm of running and walking at the aid stations. The first lap (10km-ish) was painful but the second started off worse. 4km out along the river on a dirt path with almost no support and the second rate drinks station which only had water.  I then noticed my time and figured I was on for a sub-6 hour if I kept my pace up.

Once I got to the next aid station around 13km I knew I was on the home straight.. managed to get some coke into me (sloshed it around my mouth to make it flat before swallowing) which helped.

I kept the walks through the aid stations and managed to feel stronger on the run. My tummy was feeling better. When I got to the 17km-ish aid station I knew I was almost home and it was going to take me falling over to not finish. I powered on and kept going. The last 4 kms were relatively easy. I knew I was going to finish sub-6hr so long as I kept going.

The last run through the stadium and around the race track and back into the stadium was amazing. What an amazing feeling to be finishing with strong legs! I went through the finisher lane while watching some other competitors heading out on their second lap of the run. I put my arms up and ran through the finish. 5h56:46. AWESOME. Far better than I had ever imagined for this race.


Went to the loos and immediately noticed my sunburn. I had wondered why my arms and back felt so hot on the run. My shoulders were red.. bright red. I was later to peel and loose the brief brown tan I had… anyway, in the loos, I figured out why I had such a sore tummy – just full of wind and nothing really wrong. Man, if only i had let rip on the run I would have probably felt much better much quicker!

Lessons learned

  • plan for the day before and get the transition bags all ready and check everything in in one go and then take things easy 
  • practise T1 a bit more and get the order of things to do sorted
  • double check *all* nutrition items (including salt-stick)
  • take Nuun tablets on the bike to make some more electrolyte drink on the way
  • possibly take Isostar tablets on the bike to make energy drink if the race provided one doesn’t taste good – although I have been training with the Powerbar drinks on the bike and don’t mind them too much
  • Don’t gulp fluid just before T2.
  • Practise fiddling with the Garmin 405 when running
  • Maybe do a VO2max test to work out my correct HR zones as I raced above my planned race HR
  • Practise consuming gels on climbs


This has to be one of, if not, the most difficult things I have ever done. An Ironman 70.3 isn’t easy but is doable with a reasonable amount of training. Did I feel knackered after the race? Yes, but not as bad as I had expected. Will I do another one? Yes… sooner the better 🙂  Will I do a full Ironman… well I do have a place in Ironman Austria 2009 if I want by virtue of doing Ironman 70.3 Austria this year. Have I entered yet? No, but the voucher expires in mid-July…

I have completed the Austria Ironman 70.3 in 5h56:46!! Woohoo!

 Am so pleased with the performance.  My swim time was 40:12, bike time was 3h00:02 and run time was 2h10:34. You can look up full stats on www.ironmanlive.com

 I will post a more comprehensive race report soon.  Right now, off to continue celebrating!

Well, yesterday I completed the Merchant Taylor Sprint triathlon in 1h32:41, by my watch. It was a 750m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run, although my odometer only recorded just over 19km for the cycle leg.

The start of the swim was not great. I could not find a rhythm and ended up doing some breaststroke and then crawl alternations. Around half way though I found my swim stroke and finished in a time of 16:08. The cycle went ok and was completed in 43:33. Had some issues with my aero water bottle- sponge came out and I was getting drenched – I need to find a solution for this. The run of 5km was over grassy and some uneven ground but I completed it in 25:54. The mathematicians will see a missing 7 minutes – that of course is the time in transition. Mostly from T1. I made a few schoolboy errors (ie: race belt on before cycling jacket so had to take racebelt off and put it on a second time) which cost me a couple of extra minutes.  All part of the learning curve.

Overall I am happy with the performance and I am very pleased to have found my swimming rhythm in the second part of the swim. It gives me a certain amount of extra confidence that the swim can be enjoyable rather than a nightmare!

Since my last post my training has been a little hit and miss when compared to the plan from my coach.  I have not managed to fit in all the sessions that were scheduled. Admittedly I didn’t feel up to some of the sessions and some of the others were missed/delayed due to work.  I have commented on this before (work interfering) and have stopped doing on-call which has helped with the training so that is positive.

On the training front, I was away for a few days in early May in Spain for a training “topup”. Got some good hill work done along with a PB swim of 31:14 (give or take a couple of seconds) for 1500m. Did a “almost” Olympic while I was there – 1500m swim followed by 56km (ish) cycle and a 9km run. Did not time the whole thing and did not feel too knackered afterwards which was positive.

So on the whole I am happy with the training I’ve been doing which is a positive thing!

Well I completed my first triathlon on Sunday. Hurray. It was a short sprint in Hyde Park (400m/15km/5km) which I completed in 1h09:52 according to the official times.

That time was roughly what I was expecting. The bike and the run both went well. The swim was a slightly different matter. My navigation needs work… trying to go straight in the murky water was a bit of a challenge. My wetsuit wasnt fitting quite right so I wasnt breathing properly and ended up somewhat unexpectedly out of breath. I took things easy and got to the end feeling a bit deflated.  Yet more work is needed on the swim.

On that note I have a couple of swim lessons scheduled in a couple of weeks time to try and get some more swim technique pointers!

My training in general has not been totally up to scratch but it is progressing… but is it progressing fast enough? I certainly hope so!

Well spring is approaching, the days are getting warmer and daylight is getting more plentiful. This all amounts to better training weather!

Yesterday I completed a 90km cycle in 3h39. Didn’t feel too bad afterwards which was a good sign.  My legs were not totally jelly like and felt like they were up to a reasonable length run. In the end we only did a 25min run off the bike which was enough to get the legs turning over and the heart rate up again.

This week is meant to be a heavy training week according to my training plan. Wish me luck! Hopefully I will get in some good swim sessions and continue to improve!