OMM 2018 MAp

OMM 2018

What a great way to spend the weekend. No internet, no phone signal, no children, no civilisation. Instead some sunshine, some snow, the glorious Welsh Black Mountains and my buddy Dave. Everything we needed was on our backs for the Original Mountain Marathon or OMM previously known as the KIMM.  Dave and I had last dared to take part 14 years ago, before the world of parenting had hit us.

The annual event roams the UK, setting the competitors, in teams of two against challenging and beautiful terrain, for them to navigate point to point or to amass as many points as possible by selecting their own route via checkpoints allotted values according to their difficulty to find or distance to get to them. We chose the short score, 5 hours on the first day and 4 hours on the second, with the aim of collecting as many points as possible. All competitors have to carry everything they will need; food, tent, sleeping bag, warm clothes, water proof clothing and emergency supplies, which amazingly some can get down to 4kg!

Day 1 looked fairly straight forward. We reckoned we could cover 30km in the allotted 5hrs before reaching the overnight camp site. With a carefully plotted route, we set off. First couple of check points in and feeling good. 2.5 hours in and still feeling good. 3hrs in and we figured it was going to be tight to make the cut off, so best get a move on. We altered the plan to go for a more direct route to the finish point but soon the realisation, just before the snow started to blow across the top of  Pen Twyn Mawr, that we weren’t going to make the cut off and our ambition had out stripped our ability. With the cold and steep descent we both had dark patches, where we pulled each through down from Pen y Gadair Fawr, then straight up and over Chwarel y Fan, for the final 3km along the road to the day 1 finish and overnight camp site, with about 30km covered.

We’d amassed 248 points, to be penalised 240 of them for being 1hr 55min late, leaving us with 8 points and 166th out of 167. On the bright side we’d enjoyed almost 7 hours on the hills and worked up an appetite. With the tent pitched, water boiling and warm clothing on we settled in for the night, with the 2000 other competitors in the temporary camp site. Our supper consisted of re-hydrated pasta bolognaise, washed down with sweet tea and a discussion on our plan of attack for day 2.

The plan was simple and based on what we learned from our day 1 adventure. To plot a course that headed fairly directly to the finish. If we made good time and had the energy we could then could collect more points. With a plan for day 2, we had 14hrs, in roughly zero degrees to rest up, get some sleep and be ready to go again.

At 6am, a loud hailer wake up call came for all campers, which meant we had 3hr 45min before our start. Plenty of time to have a brew or two, porridge and pack up. With 1 minute to go to the start, the day’s map were handed out. Our route for the day was starting to be plotted. After considering a couple of options, we decide to go with getting up to Offa’s Dyke path on the ridge line (Dave being a Geologist, kindly explaining what a dyke and shelf are and how they’re formed, I’ll save you the details) to pick up as many points as we could on our way to the finish. We executed with time to spare, maybe we’d left 20 points on the hill, although tired legs begged to differ. 130 points for day 2, giving us 138 total, for 156th, out of 157 finishers, moving up 10 places after teams dropping out.

The final drama for the day on the post race checking out, the man behind the computer said we hadn’t been to the final compulsory checkpoint. This check point was pretty tricky to miss as you had to run past it to cross the finish line. Thankfully Dave being wise in the way of orienteering and electronic dibbers, always stamped the map with the pin stamp. The man behind the computer was a little grumpy about the fact we didn’t have to dash out the door to revisit the check point and that Dave was quite happy to show the man every check point that we had manually stamped, especially for such occasions when the dibber didn’t dib.  So the man gave us ‘the benefit of the doubt’, in fact no doubt as the pin mark matched his master copy and we had the 51st OMM in the bag. Just the A465 Head of the Valley road work detour to navigate, to get home.

Ironman Wales 2018

My reflection – I’m a little disappointed with the result as I thought I had the fitness to go quicker, but I’m happy with my performance as I put the best race together that I could on the day and wouldn’t change anything I did during the event. Here’s how it went.

The Build Up – the training went mostly to plan, with the specific IronMan training starting after the Cardiff Standard Triathlon, which was on 24th June. I did 3 x 3 week blocks, with an easier week after each, leaving two week to race day for freshening up and the finishing touches.

Race week – was hectic, with Sian (wife) starting a new job on the Monday, leaving me in charge of the school run, we were also looking after Robbie, the father-in-laws dog and I was working Monday to Thursday and not finished to after 9pm each night. I just about managed to squeeze in my normal race week schedule along with a few extra miles walking Robbie.

In Tenby – the usual pre-race registration, which was slow. I waited in line for about 1hr. Other lines seemed to be moving quicker, but the line I was in was for my race number, so line hoping wasn’t going to help. On the Saturday both Grace and Isaac ran in the IronKids event which they loved, with another medal to add to their growing collection.  Followed by racking the bike and run/bike bag in transition.

The Race – The weather was favorable, a slight chop in the sea, windy (normal) on the bike and pleasantly warm on the run. After two gels washed down with water, followed by the National Anthem, the rolling start began. People hadn’t been completely honest with their seeding, I was fighting my way past people from the beach and I’m not a fast starter. I was continually swimming past people all of the first lap, exiting the water in 29min 12seconds to continue catching and passing during the second lap, where I had first a right hand, and later a left hand experience of Jelly Fish, thankfully not stings, just a squishy feeling. I exited the swim in 59.30, so pretty much even paced. During the entire swim I took it easy and could have happily jumped back in for another lap, although I was looking forward to getting on to the bike.

Up the zigzags, wetsuit off and trainers on, for a jog to the change tent. Helmet, glasses and number on and on to the bike. My plan for the bike, which I stuck to was to ride my own race, only going hard if I had to, i.e. up a few of the steeper hills. This worked well as during the first two hours quite a few cyclists came whizzing past, a few of which I was again later on the second lap of the bike. On the second lap I was feeling ok and able to hold pace. My fuelling strategy was 300kcal per hour, made up from 200Kcal from a home brew maltodextrin, fructose, salt and a splash of lemon squash, kept in an aero bottle on the down tube and a further 100Kcal alternating between a gel and energy bar each  hour, totalling 1800kcal. I took two bottles of water on route, to give approximately 2600 of fluid drunk. Off the bike in 6hr 11min.

In to T2, trainers on, hat on and on to the marathon. I started slowly to let the body unwind and found a good rhythm, lap one in 55mins. I started to feel as good as can at this stage, going through lap 2 in 1hr 50, still feeling good going on to lap 3. Lap 3 started well, with the good rhythm continuing, but the quads where starting to fatigue. I kept the gels, red bull and water going in at approximately 200kcal per lap hoping the legs would hold on until lap 4. Just before mile 18 I had to take an unplanned, extended walk break, to give the quads some time to recover. This allowed me to get back running, finishing lap 3 in 3hrs. Lap 4 was tough, as it is for most, the best way to describe it is as a ‘soul searching death march’. Thanks to the fantastic support out on the course for keeping me going during the final lap. I crossed the line with a 4hr24 marathon and 11hr, 44min, 52sec finishing time and very thankfully to be able to stop. After a cup of tea, a slice of Pizza Fungi, I collected my bike and bags, to pedal slowly back to the campsite at New Hedges. Job Done.

 

Equipment

Wetsuit – Snugg Sliptream, made to measure.

Goggles – Swans FO2 Smoke, optical.

Bike – Boardman Air TT (2017 model, T9 fork), custom build.

Wheels – Planet X 82 / 101.

Tubulars – Veloflex Extreme front / Carbon rear.

Helmet – LG P09

Running Shoes – Newton Gravity 7.

Trisuit – Virklon AERO endurance – custom colours.

Socks – Tri-Monkey Limited Edition.

Runner

Triathlon Training – End of Season Top 5

Runner

 

If you wish to move mountains tomorrow you must start lifting stones today

It’s that time of year again and the triathlon season is coming to an end, although every year  the racing season seems to be getting longer. Taking an end of year break is not a sign of weakness and whilst you will loose some fitness in the short term, it is the first step to improving for next year’s racing.

One to two weeks completely off from training followed by another one to two weeks of low key, unstructured training should do the trick, to refresh and recharge your body. Make sure you are enjoying being active, try doing some different sports or activities. Many athletes seem to be racing all year round, which is okay, as they enjoy racing. however it is not possible is to be at your best all year round.  At the end of each training or racing cycle you should have some R&R, followed by some reflection asking yourself what I call the BIG FOUR QUESTIONS:-

 

  1. What Went Well?
  2. Why Did it Go Well?
  3. Even Better If…
  4. How Do I Improve?

 

I find it helps to right the answers to the BIG FOUR down, which helps to formulate plan for the next year and key areas that need further researching or focusing on. I use the above after individual training sessions, blocks of training, races and any where that I trying to improve or understand better. As the wise words from Benjamin Franklin  go ‘ failing to prepare is preparing to fail’.

You might also find 5 Proven Ways to Improve This Winter useful as you head in to your planning.

 

Beach Life

In Summary

  1. Take some time off training and then be active doing some fun stuff.
  2. Reflect on the season , do your research and work out what is going to help you reach your next goals.
  3. Make a plan, include you goals, what is needed and how your going to do it.
  4. Execute the plan, knowing that you are more than likely to need to adapt it.
  5. Reevaluate so you you can evolve and improve the plan to meet your goals.
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