Season 2: The story so far … – Featured Blog

Today s posts from our featured Port Elizabeth1 Blogger:

Season 2: The story so far by Look Sharp in Lycra2:

Welcome to the second and what I hope will be the final season of Look Sharp in Lycra. A brief recap for those of you who are new to the blog, or have been as inactive here as I ve been for the majority of the last six months! Here s where we left off back in July 2015

I m taking part in Ironman South Africa on 10 April.

I don t know exactly why I m doing it, but I like a challenge. It involves swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles, and running a marathon, all within strict time limits and in any case within 17 hours. Plus two other challenges (more of those later), making five in total.

I ve been thinking about it for a long time, going back to when I first saw Ironman when I was living in South Africa.

That s when I knew I wanted to do it. Nearly four years ago (yikes, that long!) I cycled from Land s End to John O Groats3 with my mate Dave Bickley. Last April I ran my first ever marathon4.

And last September, I completed a 5km swim in Bray Lake, accompanied by my swimming coach Tanya Bartram, who also helped me practice with an earlier 1 mile effort at the Great East Swim near Ipswich5.

After that, I got on with life satisfied that I could do all of these things as long as they were separated by a few months, got my nose back to the grindstone, and started eating and drinking my way towards a happy Christmas.

Then on 1 January 2016 I realised I was overweight and had just under 100 days left to prepare for what was going to be a very difficult challenge! You can read elsewhere on this blog about how much I think this is a mental challenge, but at the end of the day a considerable amount of physical effort is needed too. I needed to put some in, and pronto.

Here s what I did.

First, I set myself a weight loss target, to get myself down from 85.4kg (about 13st 6lbs) to 76kg (about 12st 0lb) by the time of the Ironman. I plotted it on a graph, with the average weight loss shown by the dotted blue line, and my actual weight by the solid blue line.

Season 2: The Story So Far … – Featured Blog

With the first month (January) gone, I m still ahead of target, despite a few fluctuations along the way. I m down to around 81kg now.

I also plotted a training programme I d made up myself based on the number of miles I thought I should swim (blue), cycle (green), and run (red) each week.

It s not very scientific and I should probably have a proper plan. But it s a start. The dark colours are the target, the lighter counterparts show how I m actually doing.

I update it every day.

Season 2: The Story So Far … – Featured Blog

With a month gone, it s obvious I m already (literally) miles behind, especially with the big towers of dark green showing I m not hitting anywhere near my 100 miles a week cycling target a big concern.

I m happy with my swimming, despite finding myself the slowest swimmer in the fast lane after a two year absence. I m not swimming far enough, but I m getting my speed up and I can do a mile in about 35 mins now, so should be good for the 2hr target I ve set myself to have completed the 2.4 mile Ironman swim (though swimming in the sea is a different kettle of fish, and that 2hrs also needs to include transition time to be starting the bike leg).

I m happy with my running, again despite not putting in much distance yet. I ve been running short distances but quite often, with a fair bit of interval training that s bringing my average pace up from around 11-12 mins/mile to around 10 mins/mile: I just need to increase the distances at that speed now.

I ve been helped greatly by our fabulous Runners-next-the-Sea running group (pic below), organised by Kevin and Evette, which meets every Monday. It s amazing how much help a properly qualified running coach can give you, and even though our group is very informal, the fun we ve had and the lessons we ve learned have gone a long way to making me feel confident about the run for Ironman. I m sure I could run a marathon comfortably within 5hrs now (I did London in 4hrs, 55 mins), but that s obviously going to be a lot harder after a long swim and bike ride earlier in the day.

Season 2: The Story So Far … – Featured Blog

Some of the Runners-next-the-Sea enjoying a summer training session on Holkham Beach, Norfolk

Which brings me back to cycling, the part for which ironically I am most under-prepared, given that cycling had been my thing for the last few years.

There is little to be gained by maxing out on swim training (it s the shortest part of Ironman by some way); and there are good reasons not to overtrain for the running leg (greater wear and tear and increased risk of injury). But training for cycling is all-important: for most people it s the longest part of the day, a 10% increase in speed will deliver big time savings, and it s great for stamina. So I must get some miles on the bike very soon.


Cycling. Running. Those are three of the five challenges I mentioned at the outset.

The fourth is nutrition, and I need help here. You don t need to worry about nutrition too much when you re practising disciplines separately, but you really do need to know what works for you and what doesn t before the big day comes. For an Ironman you need to take in some 8,000 calories in a day, while you are on the move; you have to digest them, and you have to keep them down. If you re reading this and can help, please let me know.

I do have some ideas, but I d welcome yours.

And the fifth challenge? Well, that s fundraising. I successfully managed to raise 2,765 including Gift Aid for my efforts last year.

I ve kept the fundraising page6 open to take in Ironman too, and I m now looking to get another 1,300 in donations to get past the 4,000 barrier in total. Please give generously: it s going to the Pattenmakers Charitable Foundation who will distribute it to a number of good causes.

That s it for your Season 2 opener. Now we re all back up to speed, I ll be posting more regularly as the 10 April deadline draws ever closer.

Thanks for reading this, and thanks for your support.

Season 2: The Story So Far … – Featured Blog

Season 2: The Story So Far … – Featured Blog Season 2: The Story So Far … – Featured Blog Read more here: Look Sharp in Lycra7

Jumping in by Look Sharp in Lycra8:

Season 2: The Story So Far … – Featured Blog

Swim start: Ironman South Africa

Last week I booked my place at Ironman South Africa, taking place on 10 April 2016 in Port Elizabeth, so there s no turning back now (not that there ever was). It s an exciting event, and this video brought all of the buzz I got as a spectator right back to me.9

With the running taken care of (for now at least) it s been time to turn my hand to swimming, which was the one triathlon discipline that scared me most.

When I registered I came across the above photo, which shows just how daunting the swimming leg is: hundreds of people jostling to get to the first buoy, with a whole 2.3 miles ahead of you.

I wasn t surprised to read advice from Terry Laughlin10 this week about how to cope with open water swimming anxiety.

He s a renowned expert on distance swimming, but even he recognises that in reality up to 70% of the people in the picture above are actually struck by panic within seconds of entering the water.

To help me overcome my nerves, my swimming coach Tanya Bartram has been going out of her way to help me, and we recently negotiated a cool 1 mile swim at the Great East Swim, where with Tanya s help I finished in just under 40 minutes11.

Season 2: The Story So Far … – Featured Blog

Tanya and I finish the Great East Swim together

I have to say I really enjoyed it, and Tanya swimming alongside me gave me a real confidence boost, especially when I got a bit jostled early on and my goggles started to mist up. Stop faffing and get on swimming seemed to be her advice, and it worked.

Season 2: The Story So Far … – Featured Blog

Tanya and I after the Great East Swim: she doesn t look too scary in this pic!

I d been pretty relaxed going in to the Great East Swim, but nerves got the better of me as I got changed into my wetsuit, and somehow I managed to lose my timing chip, pick up someone else s (sorry David Edwards) and turn up at the start chipless. When I told them I d lost the timing chip on my ankle, they asked me if the one sticking out from my neck (that had obviously got caught on the velcro of my wetsuit) had anything to do with me?

Red faced (me), laughingly (they) processed me through to the start

Tanya promised me she d have me swimming like a frog in time for Ironman, and despite my scepticism (and with her superb coaching skills) I m feeling a lot more confident. I ve done a couple of early Saturday morning swims in the lake at Milton Country Park in Cambridge, and have just signed up for a 5km swim12 (that s about 3.1 miles) in Bray on 5 September by far the longest I ll ever have swum, and if I ve worked it out right equivalent to 200 lengths of a standard swimming pool. Yet again, despite the 06:30 start, Tanya has agreed to join me for this one last big effort (as she says: I don t do early mornings! ).

I need to get a lot of training in before then.

It s the ultimate test for me: if I can do this, I can do the Ironman swim.

With autumn arriving soon, then my final chance to practice my swimming outdoors comes at the North Norfolk Triathlon13, helpfully taking place where I live at Wells-next-the-Sea. All being well, I ll be taking on the 1 mile harbour swim, handing over to Tanya for the cycling and a local friend to do the running. A good chance for me to experience the cold water and currents of swimming in the sea.

A month or so ago Kevin and Evette from our running group took 20 mins to swim against the tide, and 9 mins to swim the same distance back, which shows the nature of the task.

So thanks to Tanya, at the moment at least, it s all going swimmingly

P.S. David Edwards didn t seem to suffer from me misappropriating his timing chip, finishing his 1 mile swim in just over 36 mins.

Season 2: The Story So Far … – Featured Blog Season 2: The Story So Far … – Featured Blog Read more here: Look Sharp in Lycra14

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Port Elizabethan

This author is a ‘catch-all’ for occasional articles and letters written to MyPE.

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  1. ^ Port Elizabeth (
  2. ^ Look Sharp in Lycra (
  3. ^ I cycled from Land s End to John O Groats (
  4. ^ I ran my first ever marathon (
  5. ^ an earlier 1 mile effort at the Great East Swim near Ipswich (
  6. ^ fundraising page (
  7. ^ Look Sharp in Lycra (
  8. ^ Look Sharp in Lycra (
  9. ^ this video brought all of the buzz I got as a spectator right back to me. (
  10. ^ advice from Terry Laughlin (
  11. ^ I finished in just under 40 minutes (
  12. ^ just signed up for a 5km swim (
  13. ^ the North Norfolk Triathlon (
  14. ^ Look Sharp in Lycra (
  15. ^ Click HERE (
  16. ^ blog (
  17. ^ CLICK HERE (
  18. ^ MyPE Monday to Friday Newsletter (
  19. ^ see all (

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